Like many of you reading this article, growing up was a big challenge for me. Not every hard time had to do with me being gay because I really had no idea what that even meant. It was more about realizing I was different from the other boys and having to deal with not fitting into that perfect boy box of masculinity. I was very quiet, shy and gravitated more towards things that my sisters were into. As a little guy, my older sister, Jackie did a lot of the talking for me. We are 11 months apart and share the same age for almost a week. I was born premature, which made us not only “Irish Twins,” but also instant best friends straight from gate. Jackie looked like Shirley Temple, with big curly hair and the cutest personality to go with it. If you look at our picture from when we were both young, you would think that we were actual twins. We loved playing together, Barbies were our favorite and every once in awhile we would let our other sister, Amy play with us, but she would have to first put money into a piggy bank that we left outside the bedroom door. It was sort of her entry fee. My little brother was too young and certainly had no interest in taking part in our “New Kids On The Block” dolls meets “Barbie And The Rockers” extravaganza. Our playtime would come to a quick end when we would hear the sound of the garage door go up because we knew that meant our dad was home from work. My sisters and I made a pact to never tell our dad I was playing with Barbies. That was just not what boys did back in the day.
The older I grew up, I tried to come into my own but had the challenge of being picked on because I still continued to be really scrawny and soft spoken. Going to school was often a nightmare because I would be teased for “sounding like a girl,” “talking like a girl,” and “running like a girl.” So, I decided to stay quiet and pray that my voice would deepen. I can’t tell you how many times someone would call the house and I would pick up the phone with an immediate response of, “Hello, Mrs. Jacobi?” I hated the sound of my voice and could not blame anyone because it truly was sky high and there was nothing I could do about it. My sister, Jackie always had my back though and has continued to be a great support in my life.
Recently, when my fiancé, Nick and I picked a wedding date and started to iron out all the details, one of my first tasks was asking Jackie to be my “Best Woman.” Maid of Honor just did not seem like the right title for her, and we have certainly made it a point to shake up the traditional parts of our upcoming celebration.
It is so wild to me how life comes full circle and that even the darkest of times start to turn into lessons learned or bleeps on our own individual radars. New memories start to take shape, and consistent moments of happiness turn into your reality, validating thoughts that life is indeed so very good. But most importantly, that with the right support, self-confidence and family connection - you can make even your biggest dreams come true.
Last weekend, my mom, two sisters, Nick and I went shopping together. This was not your average shopping trip. We carved out a day where Nick and I could help my two sisters pick out dresses that they could wear to our wedding since both of them will be standing up during the ceremony. The shy, scrawny, high-pitched voice, Barbie-playing boy that is at the core of my soul was smiling proud that day.
It took a lot of self-growth to get here and many obstacles to overcome, but it is the person that I am today and the people that have been with me along the way, which is most significant. I could not be more grateful for my two loving parents and my three siblings. I wish all the younger boys in the world reading this article understands that being different is not a bad thing, and that one day life will be filled with countless days of joy where they can be who they are and love who they want.
Planning our gay wedding in Arizona gave my fiancé, Nick and I a big dose of nervousness. It is not a shocker or a big surprise that the beautiful, 48th state leans more on the conservative side of politics. Much of our hesitation was focused on how we were going to be treated by wedding venues, bakeries, florists, and other vendors that would help bring our special day to life. Yes, that is something two future gay grooms or two brides-to-be need to think about. During the beginning stages of our wedding planning, we definitely wondered where and if we would feel comfortable. I wish I had screen shot my Google search when figuring out where to get married in Arizona. There are a ton of gorgeous resorts but figuring out which ones were accepting was our biggest question. We should not have to think about these kinds of things, but that is exactly how we felt – especially with where the tone of the country is at the moment. I was also dealing with my own anxiousness because a lot of old emotions started to creep back. Having our wedding in the state where I was picked on for being different and bullied for being gay played a big part in my worries.
The Supreme Court marriage equality ruling certainly made a tremendous mark not too long ago, and we are incredibly grateful for the freedom fighters that helped make that happen. It's obviously a comforting (and legal) component to us. The ruling, though, is still fresh in my opinion, and it does not completely wash away discrimination or hate. You still hear news stories from across the country about gay couples or people in the LGBT community being discriminated against. So, right from the start, we were not 100% sold with an Arizona wedding. Flying away to San Francisco or Hawaii and just getting eloped was looking like the easier decision.
However, in the past few months, there have been some incredible people that have helped cool down our worries and motivated us to not only have a wedding in Arizona, but also celebrate the message that “love is love.” This meant that Nick and I needed to adjust our mindset, kick down any negative thought about not feeling comfortable, and appreciate the love we have for Arizona. It is indeed a special place, especially for me who was raised here, graduated from Arizona State University, worked at the ABC News affiliate, and has family roots in Phoenix. When I left Arizona many years ago to pursue a career in Los Angeles, I promised myself to do my best to be a good example for the younger LGBT generation back home. When I started to get an even larger writing platform, I made it my duty to inspire more people around the world. Much of the messages in my articles are told through my own personal struggles, but also discuss the impact on the people that are in my life, and the random acts of kindness from others that help me put life into perspective.
For example, I need to share with you how touching it was that both my father and Nick’s father, who happen to carry the same name (and a name that Nick and I share as middle names), truly convinced us to move forward with having an Arizona wedding celebration. Our mothers always had the wedding vote, but hearing both our dads wanting us to bring our families and friends together to watch us say, “I do!” was one of the best feelings in the world. If you are a gay man, you probably appreciate the father connection and the powerful joy behind their acceptance. But, one of the most beautiful moments came last month when we posted our formal engagement photo on my Instagram page. It brought the entire Arizona wedding decision full circle. After seeing our picture and reading my articles online, I was contacted by a Scottsdale, Arizona florist by the name of Julie who owns Juliet Le Fleur. Her family has been in the flower and event planning business since 1883 and has done over 3,000 weddings to date. As I read through my Instagram comments on the engagement photo, she replied with “I want to do your flowers!” That later turned into an even more magical conversation between us.
Julie was inspired by the openness I share in my articles and my mission to provoke more positivity into the world. She was also surprised to hear that Nick and I will be the first gay couple to get married at The Scottsdale Resort at McCormick Ranch in Arizona. It is a true staple in the Scottsdale area that has been around since 1976, so she is excited to be part of a little local history and wanted to donate her flowers! The best part is that Julie wants our upcoming wedding to symbolize her support for marriage equality and let it be known that all couples are welcome in her store.
So, whether you are a gay couple that is looking to tie the knot, or simply a supporter of the LGBT community, I hope you continue to follow our wedding journey through Instinct Magazine and my social outlets. Let us always motivate each other through our own stories, openness, and willingness to live outside of our comfort zone. We need to make our own individual marks, support each other and continue to bring the message that “love is love” to life!
I am big a believer in saying what you mean and meaning what you say. My delivery can come off blunt and direct, especially when I am asked for my opinion on something related to relationship, career and life advice. The shy, awkward and timid, 12 year old me would be incredibly shocked to find out he would later turn into a person that is assertive in his communication. Growing up, I was soft spoken and was constantly told to “speak up” by my family members, especially from my energetic aunts and uncles. It often annoyed me to hear, “I can’t hear you, you need to talk louder” but my family was so right. Nobody could hear me. When I was very young, my older sister, Jackie did a lot of my talking for me. My voice was quiet and I was not confident in myself and certainly did not like the way my voice sounded. I was picked on in school for the longest time for “sounding like a girl” or “acting like a girl.” Kids were mean and I wished my voice had been deeper, but it wasn’t so – I stayed quiet for a long time. It was not until later on in life when I actually began to use my own truth to help speak more confidently and stand taller. I believe the power honesty and being truthful in what you want, what you want to do, and what you think on a daily basis, can actually help many people be less anxious and live a much fuller life.
A lot of not speaking confidently or directly has to do with the common roadblocks such as having the “need to please” and not fully being able to say what you really want to say. Can you imagine how much easier communication would be across the board if everyone just spoke their truth? Well to fully understand this thought, you need understand why people lie in the first place. Why do people tell half-truths or do things they really don’t want to do?
I think there are many factors but probably the most popular is that we don’t want to let other people down or disappoint. We’ve all been there. Back in the day, I could be asked an easy question like “do you want to go out on Friday night?” With a quick reply, “Yes, of course!” When in reality I was dead tired from the week before and just wanted to stay in, wear my cozy clothes and eat ice cream. For whatever reason, I had a difficult time just saying, “No, thank you.”
It really was not until I met an international entrepreneur named Louise Mohn who helped me speak up and communicate what I really wanted. She was a good boss, but also a helpful guide in my life. One of my favorite questions she would often ask me when I was in a pickle was, “What do you want?” That simple question is now at the root of my philosophy when it comes to navigating and communicating in life. The “what do you want question” made me zero in on my truth, which led to me simply focusing on my true feelings centered on my own intentions, thoughts and wishes. And, when I figured out to just say exactly what was on my mind with manners in tact and honesty turned up full notch, I started to live life much more free and all around happier.
Why? Well, I was doing everything I truly wanted to do and was expressing myself at the true deepness of my core. This is who I am, this is what I think, this is what I want to do, etc.
I was taking full ownership of my life by simply being straight up honest without any worry or needing to please. If you are having challenges in the need to please department, being honest with others, or having a difficult time expressing yourself than I suggest you take a moment and read over the following points:
1. Be Mindful Of Your Time
Many people are truthful about everything else in their life except for when it comes to how they really want to spend their time. Like I said, many people put others before themselves, which leads to bigger issues like exhaustion, resentfulness, and more. I was guilty of that when I worked at the E! Network. There were so many times when I wished I carved out more time for myself than jumping at every beck and call. If you think of your time more preciously, almost as if it were actually medicine for your soul, than I guarantee you will not only thrive more at work, but also feel a lot more rejuvenated. When our time is taken from us, it actually ends up draining our energy and leaving us unfulfilled.
2. Cut Out The Little White Lies
Those little fibs are actually contagious cracks that eat away at your conscience. A small lie can often turn into a bigger lie, which can lead to anxiety because you don’t know what lie you said to who and what story to keep straight. So, my best advice to you is to just tell the truth! Yep, it is that easy and there is not other tip or trick needed. The truth will indeed set you free from any unnecessary drama or heartache.
3. It’s OK To Change Your Mind
How many times have you agreed to do something but really never had any interest? Well, here is the good news – you can change your answer anytime. Be thoughtful and have manners in your delivery, but don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and tell your truth. It does not make you a flake, just as long as you don’t consistently agree to plans to only change your mind every time. Be consistent in your directness, but make sure you also remember to keep your manners aligned with your honesty as well.
4. Let Go Of Fear
Stop worrying about people getting mad at you if you think and feel differently about something. Family and friendship is based around care and compassion. A real friend or thoughtful family member will honor your thoughts no matter, even if they are in sync with their own or not. Have you ever been afraid to tell your hair stylist that they were not following your directions in how you wanted your haircut because you did not want to hurt their feelings? Well, throw that kind of thinking out the window! Communication is not a one-way street, nor a street that is all about pleasing one person. You have to encourage and engage honest conversations.
5. Use Words That Give You A Pause
I have been told I am a very black and white; it is either a yes or a no from me when dealt with a question. However, I am mindful when it comes to using certain phrases when needing more time to decide on something. These are usually my go-to’s:
“I can’t commit to that right now”
“Let me get back to you on that”
“Let’s put a pin in that but I promise to let you know”
If you find yourself ever getting off the honest path or struggling with a decision, take time to meditate, find your center and go back to that important question, “what do you want?”
Once you find that answer, remember that it will always be your guide because it is at the core of what is most significant – your truth!
Both of my parents are one of seven when it comes to their sibling count, which means I have the pleasure of having a diverse group of aunts, uncles, and cousins fill up my life. Ever since I was young, my aunts and uncles represented more than just family. They symbolized a unique sense of togetherness all bottled up with vibrant personalities, colorful opinions, and contagious senses of humors that could challenge any stand up comedian. It is their laughter, inside jokes, and charismatic story telling that I enjoy most about my aunts and uncles. They can tell a story as if you were actually there, painting a scenario and scene like crafted wordsmiths, executing the right tone and timing perfectly. As the first grandson and one of the oldest nephews of the bunch, I’ve tried to do my best to have a strong connection with my relatives. Whether that meant spending summers together at the Jersey shore, going on road trips, or working at one of their companies - I loved being around them and creating memories together.
As this holiday season (and my May 2019 wedding!) quickly approaches, I took time to reflect on my relationships with my relatives and all the lessons I’ve learned from them over the years. Creating a wedding invite list makes you think long and hard about the family members that have supported you every step of the way. From my early years of being in the closet, to the fight for marriage equality, to the first time I brought my fiancé, Nick, home to meet everyone. Our wedding has been 11 years in the making and the love we get from our family members makes our wedding so much more meaningful. I say that with joy, but also with a dose of reality knowing that there are still families out there that do not support their LGBT nephews and nieces. When Nick and I say our vows in front of all our family members, we want them to know how grateful we are for their endless support
With that said, it is important that everyone reading this article understands that there is no such thing as a perfect family. Like any family dynamic, there will always be fantastic highs and frustrating lows. What we all learn through those moments are what I believe is significant. If everyone just takes a second to pause and put the bigger picture into focus, then I think there can be even more unity within a family. The tools to get there involve perspective, understanding, and being mindful of the generational change.
I had the honor of becoming an uncle years ago. Perhaps, there are some of you that hold an “aunt” or “uncle” title as well. When my two nieces were born, I vowed to truly be the best uncle I could possibly be. That meant acting as a motivator, teacher, supporter, and the best Lego builder the world has ever seen. It also put my relationship with my own aunts and uncles into perspective. I was now taking on a role that they had provided to me. One of my biggest takeaways with being an uncle is that kids soak up every word. They have the ability to remember what you said, when you said it, and hold you accountable at the same time. Your words matter to them. When I am around my nieces, I strive to engage them in creative ways or story telling that makes them think. I want them to grow up in a world where they feel determined to use their minds and have a voice. This is something that my aunts and uncles encouraged in me as well. They would constantly tell me to speak up, work hard, and be confident. Yes, everything actually does come full circle.
When I entered my teen years, I started to ask more questions about my family’s history, how my parents and relatives were raised, and understand what their life experiences were like growing up. Some things I knew, while others left me wondering more. I wanted to know the reasoning behind certain events and why specific behaviors were a common family trend. Asking questions can often be uncomfortable for people, but there is nothing wrong if your intent is for something positive to come out of it, like - understanding. Are you familiar with that quote, “you only know what you know?” Well, in order to have understanding, you must have awareness. When you have both, you can then start to connect some dots. Those dots can often lead to peace and unity.
The Generational Change
Last month, I went to visit my cousin and his wife who have two children together. I remember walking into their house for the first time and thinking how crazy it was to see him with a newborn and a small toddler at his feet. I mean, I use to babysit him and now he has babies. How many of you have gone through a moment like this when you start to see your younger generation of cousins having their own kids? I could not help but wonder what our aunts and uncles must think. I say that with love, because if I am feeling the shift in the rise of the next family generation, they must be feeling the change even more. Part of this probably has to do with the obvious, they are getting older, but another important element is their own identities have evolved into new roles and responsibilities. Their children are now having children and their titles of “aunt” and “uncle” are now being upgraded to “grandparents.” For others, their children have either left their nest or they are on the road to retirement. Now, by no means are my aunts and uncles losing steam, but eventually it is our duty as the younger generation to step in and carry on traditions and the energy that our family is known for. That includes hosting gatherings, getting together for special events, and supporting each other through all our ups and downs. When my grandma, who we all call “Nan,” does pass away, I want her to know the family love and unity she holds at her core will carry on from generation to generation.
I hope this article made you think about your own life and the relatives that supported you along the way. Life has a tendency to feel overwhelming this time of the year, but I encourage you to do your part and make an extra effort to be kind to your relatives and show them some gratitude. I have a feeling it would mean the world to them and bring a sense of holiday goodness to your heart as well.
I made a pact with myself to make it my most honest year yet. I wanted to be truthful about how I felt and I wanted to put my integrity stamp on every decision made.
For some of you, that may sound like an easy resolution to conquer. However, for many people, I think it’s a harder task than one would think. In fact, I’ve found that one of the things people struggle with most is making decisions that are based on what they really want to do. Instead, all too often, people base their decisions on what they think others want them to do, or on what the majority of their peers are doing.
As kids, we always heard that line, “stop caring what other people think.” We heard it from our parents, our teachers, and maybe even some older family members. We also heard “just be yourself.” It was always instilled in us to be authentic, but how many of us actually follow those words to this day? Sadly, I think the answer is too few of us, and, in fact, I think the greatest disruption to our authenticity has been social media and the pressure it puts on us to have a perfect persona.
In the early 2000s, the social media monster started to transform the way we communicate. It also fueled how much we started to care about what other people think of us. Those “likes,” comments and heart icons are now the symbols of self-validation. It has turned into an obsession for many and affected the way we socialize, make choices and interact.
Some of us may even agree that it has made the art of being social less authentic or honest. I once worked with a man that would post a picture on Instagram and then count how many likes he would get within the first 10 minutes. If he did not get a good amount of “likes,” he would delete the picture. It was truly insecurity and self-obsession at its finest and an example of how one is so thirsty to be validated.
It is indeed a sign of the times. People now go out of their way to capture the perfect picture, food image, selfie or the most “shocking” shot with the hopes of gaining followers and “likes.” This is often heavily produced and staged. And, don’t get me started on filters and picture-altering apps. Can we all agree that they have played a significant role in altering real imagery and how one wants to be perceived? I will admit that I myself have used some of these filters to make my own pictures look aesthetically glossier. But, where I take issue is when they are overdone and photos are altered in a way that actually starts to affect one’s mindset. This is why I worry about the psychological effects of social media and how it has filtered the truth.
So, let me go back to my initial thought of caring too much about what people think and striving to be genuinely honest in your daily decisions. I challenge you with these questions: Do you think that we’ve all become accustomed to being more superficial than ever before? And, have the “likes” of social media made us less honest?
While you marinate on your thoughts, I encourage you to read the below. If you find yourself affected by the pressures of society and social media, as well as struggling to live an authentic life, then these suggestions are for you:
Pause Before Posting: Ask yourself why you are posting a picture. Are you doing it for a reaction, attention or to simply post a creatively cool or captivating picture? What is your intention? You don’t have to think too hard into this, but my point is simple: don’t post a picture to try and get something back in return. Do it with a clear mindset. Share because you want to share, not because you want to make someone jealous, show off, etc.
Follow Like-Minded People: Your social media feeds should be filled with people and pages that give you inspiration, motivation and entertainment. Comb through your followers and delete people that bring your energy down.
Enjoy The Moment: Not every outing needs to be captured with a video or picture. Go out and just appreciate the present. You will be surprised by how refreshing it feels. I have a feeling the people you are surrounded by will be grateful for your time even more.
Go On A Social Media Hiatus: Ever thought what life would be like if you actually did not check your social platforms every hour on the hour? Try taking a week-long vacation from your social media. And, please don’t make an announcement on your social that you are taking break. Just do it!
Change Your Charging Station: Put your phone in the other room when you go to bed. Your sleep is incredibly important for your mind and health. All too often, people make looking through social media the last thing they do before they go to bed and the first thing they do when they wake up. Believe it or not, it plays a part with your subconscious mind. So, do yourself and your dreams a favor. Move your charging station away from your bedside.
Make Your Content Authentic: You are in the driver’s seat of what you write and post. So, if you need a content overhaul, then I suggest you do just that. Delete old posts that don’t actually reflect who you really are. I say that with love, because what you put out into the world should be a representation of your life—your honest life.
What we can all agree upon is the fact that social media is not going anywhere. It is a powerful tool that has affected our communication around the world, our political system, breaking news, and daily social interaction. When something this big directly makes such a significant mark, we must stop for a moment and flush out what is working and what isn’t working. My wish for you is that you don’t lose yourself in the pressure and you always stay centered to what is real – the truth. Be truthful and authentic in everything that you do.
I had been known to put these massive walls up when it came to meeting new people. It was a defense mechanism that immediately went up like an invisible fortress. This was partly due to my years of being bullied as a kid as well as the experience I had living in Los Angeles. That city brought out a few hardy doses of life lessons that shattered my belief in friendship, the act of genuine kindness and the simple thought that others had good intentions. That eventually changed, but it took some special people to help bring back that faith in friendship and my own inner strength to understand the beauty of authentic connections. In a world that is often filtered or filled with smoke and mirrors, I think authenticity is something most of us crave. You know what it feels like when you walk away from meeting someone and you get that instant spark like you’ve known that person your entire life? That cosmic chemistry, honesty and good energy that vibrates off two people when they first meet can only be defined as two individuals being “real” or as many of us call it – authentic.
My time from grade school through high school was not my happiest of times and I know many of you can relate. Our childhood years are supposed to be a time when we don’t need to worry about people belittling us. For me, it was a time where there was more uncertainty than consistency. For starters, I was dealing with my own inner struggle of wondering why I was different than the other boys. It had more to do than just being scrawny, shy and not what society considered masculine. My physical appearance and the sound of my voice made me an easy target right from the get-go. There was also a lot of additional chaos in my life and going to school only contributed to my insecurity, self-doubt, and sadness.
I’ve talked openly about my bullying and coming out experience for years now with the hopes of not just inspiring others but giving a voice to the bigger issue at hand. What happens to us in our younger days is deeply connected to how we behave and interact in our later years as adults. The discussion of childhood trauma and how we as adults develop our own platforms later on in life needs a much bigger spotlight. My intent with this article is to bring even more attention to the matter and perhaps ignite some of you to start thinking about how adjusting your thinking about your past can actually grow stronger (and more authentic) connections around you.
So, let me break it down for you and cut straight to the chase. Being bullied along with other trauma did some serious damage to my soul. Like most people going through such an emotional roller coaster, these feelings will often stay with us for years, but then I started to see how my loss in trust with people was making me very guarded. I stopped looking at life as “fun” but rather like everyone I met wanted to take a piece of me. Part of the fight in healing is dealing with the battle of forgiveness, keeping up your boundaries, and figuring out when other people have integrity. That is difficult at first and it will take time. Bullying and other trauma can make you feel hated, lonely and like you don’t have any self-worth. One teasing word is like a rock being thrown at a windshield and then another one hits and it only continues to shatter and spread until you get to a breaking point. No matter how much self-help super glue you have in your back pocket, nothing is going to immediately put it back together. It takes time and years of self-growth, wisdom, and lessons learned to truly see through all the darkness again.
Over the past decade, I’ve worked on my own intuition and carved out the tools of how to spot a person’s true intention and when they really are being authentic. I learned to find trust in my own destiny and the beauty behind life by just doing what life does best–gives us what we can handle (and learn from). I put my own lessons to the test about a year-and-a-half ago when I was presented with a great opportunity and when I met a handful of people that validated my thoughts on authenticity. Here are just a few points to consider if you have a similar story like mine.
Transform Your Trauma Into FuelNo matter what kind of struggle you went though in your childhood, I encourage you to use it to benefit your adult life. Take the hurt and use it as fuel to drive you to your place of happiness. To do this, you need to truly recognize the trauma, understand how it affected you and set a plan on how you want to transform it into something that will never hold you back ever again.
Recognize The PatternOften times our subconscious minds have a way of taking over and controlling our outward emotions. How many of you immediately put up walls and get quiet when you meet new people? This can prevent your true personality from shining through. Perhaps, you need to adjust your approach and find the balance of being authentic and having healthy one-to-one boundaries. You see, the energy that we give off is often reflected back to us and we never want to come off as guarded or defensive.
Observe, Listen and ReevaluateWe should never judge a book by its cover, right? Well, I agree with you on that one but you should always set up your intuition radars during an initial meeting. I always suggest to be more of an observer in the beginning and to keep your ears open. Feel out the energy and listen to the words that are actually being said. If they are engaging, uplifting, balanced and energized, then you are getting signals of authenticity. However, conversations don’t always go that way. You would be surprised to learn that what a person really wants out of you is actually being communicated in the very first meeting. For example, one of my biggest red flags is when I hear someone say to me, “OMG, we have to be best friends!” That is when I check out. It is up to you to really take in what is being said before you dismiss it. So, if someone is coming at you with a demanding tone, throwing out materialistic lingo, or coming in too strong, then perhaps you need to keep your distance.
Remember That Not Everyone Is BadYou may have had your dose of negative people in your life but that does not mean everyone you meet is going to be awful. The burn may still sting from time to time, but it heals faster when you are able to meet people that really do have your back. Don’t go into a meeting, party, or friends gathering with the notion that all people suck.
Say No To The Know-It-AllWe have all met those people that not only love to talk about themselves but love to hear themselves talk about themselves. Here is the cold hard truth: they are never going to stop doing that. These are the type of people that are probably not looking out for your best interest. If they are putting themselves before every conversation topic, what makes you think they plan on putting your own thoughts and feelings into the equation?
Steer Clear Of Co-Dependent PeopleThe healthiest of friendships and human connections include space, balance, respect and boundaries. If those boxes are not being checked, you cannot expect real relationship.The biggest take-away from this article is very simple. Do your best to find peace in those moments that caused you harm and never allow them from preventing you from living your most authentic life. You deserve it and so do the really good people that are presently in your life and the ones that will continue to come in. It is up to you to choose wisely and take care of the people that take care of you.
I’m not one to shy away from planning personal goals months in advance. Strategizing, outlining and checking off boxes is mainly for my own peace of mind more than anything else. However, I’ve learned that telling yourself what tomorrow holds is usually a waste of time. Destiny has a funny — or shall I say amusing — way of taking hold of well-thought ideas and shaking life up like a snow globe.
So, I got to thinking about this past year and the roller coaster ride it has been for many people. With that shiny bright number “2018” at the forefront of our minds, I know most of us are ready to start with a clean slate.
Before you start posting about your New Year’s resolutions, booking that trainer, meal prepping, updating your resume or creating that vision board, I challenge you to dive a bit deeper into your soul and think about the word “accountability.”
My experience in moving forward in life has a lot to do with taking accountability for my own actions, life decisions and personal choices. You see, if you look at your life as a blank canvas and yourself as the painter choosing which colors to create the perfect picture, you either consciously choose colors you know will turn out to be beautiful or just randomly start dipping your brush into your palette and hope your abstract motions make sense. Whichever way you go about making your work of art come to life, once you are finished, you must take ownership and hold yourself accountable. This is the same for the choices you’ve made this past year that guided you to where you are today. That is why I want you to focus carefully on your desires moving into 2018 and how you can strive to do better, make wiser decisions and have an even stronger outlook on your life.
This can all be done by taking accountability for your past and owning your decisions for the year ahead. Here are a few suggestions to help guide you on your way:
Start at home. Whether you live by yourself or have a family of four, your home should be a structured sanctuary filled with support and some kind of feeling of peace. Delete any unnecessary chaos or bills that are adding stress to your plate. Work at being a better communicator to your spouse, a more present parent to your children, or a leader when it comes to creating happiness within your home. Tell your family that you plan on doing so, too.
Say sorry. Every day, obstacles often make us react without thinking. Do you know that line, “What were you thinking when you weren’t thinking?” Well, if there is somebody in your life that deserves an apology, I suggest you put your pride to the side and make it happen. It may not have an impact today or tomorrow, but an apology does not have an expiration date. Your kindness and consideration are timeless.
Surround yourself with doers. People within your inner circle should inspire you, encourage you and bring drops of light into your life. Close the door on anyone that makes you feel poorly about yourself, is involved in bad habits or takes jabs at your dreams and sense of self. Furthermore, do your part this year to be a better friend, sister, brother, cousin, etc. Relationships are a two-way street, so treat others how you want to be treated.
Validate. The most important part of taking accountability in life also involves validating others on how your decisions or actions may have affected them. Look them in the eye and take notice of their feelings and emotions. Tell them you hear them, you see them and you will work on being better. In time, your actions will prove that. Validation is equally crucial when something good happens in your life, too. If others have helped you, acknowledge them and say thank you or write a card, but always express gratitude. Being humble and grateful are key steps to moving ahead successfully.
I deeply encourage you to make this upcoming year your most honest. What does an honest year mean? It means always being truthful about how you feel, what you want and what you don’t want. Do your very best to put your integrity stamp on every choice that you make. This year is full of new opportunities. It is your duty to yourself to make it different from all of the rest.
I believe in you and know you can!
The holiday season is upon us, which has many people’s stress levels on high alert.
For some of you, just the thought of traveling or being around family can bring on those deep breaths of anxiety. Please kindly allow me to be blunt: family parties and the holiday hustle can, indeed, be a huge headache. I say that with love because it is my favorite time of the year, but I also say that with a big gravy boat full of honesty. No matter how you carve it, studies have shown that the holidays can heighten stress and create a restlessness in your mood.
I challenge you to make this holiday season different and encourage you to make it your happiest and healthiest year yet. This can be done by simply adjusting your perspective, reflecting on your own personal growth and creating boundaries.
To make this challenge effective, you have to first come to the deep understanding that this is not about magically erasing all your family drama. That is simply not realistic because the only person you can control is yourself. Plus, life is full of uncertainty and unexpected moments, which again is completely out of your hands.
The second point that you must consciously have on your radar is that there is no such thing as a perfect family. The word “perfect” puts too much pressure on any situation. No matter how big or small, every person you know is dealing with some kind of private family matter—whether that is harboring childhood wounds, dealing with health issues, money problems, addiction, hurt feelings, etc. The list goes on and on. But guess what? We’ve all been down one of those roads once or twice. So, I want you to let go of any perfect expectations and the idea that one family appears so much better compared to your own.
With that said, the most important point I suggest that you concentrate on is your personal boundaries. What works for you may be different than what works for others. This is about you, your life and your individual happiness. Setting up your boundaries will mentally support you through those more challenging moments of holiday stress and surprises. Boundaries will also serve as a guide and keep you on track so that you have more peace within yourself and in your present surroundings.
I want you to take a few minutes to answer the below questions to ignite your thinking and bring your subconscious thoughts to the forefront. There are no right or wrong answers, but your wheels should start to turn and help you think about what it is you want to achieve in the next couple months.
What would make you most happy over the holiday season?
Which people are involved in that scenario?
What environment do you feel the most comfortable in?
What kind of behavior do you want to stay away from?
Who in your family has shown you support and love?
Have you made a conscious effort to show kindness as well?
Do you engage in positive conversations and show interest?
What are the holidays supposed to be about?
What is different about you this year compared to last year?
Do you plan to give back or do something charitable during the holidays?
Take time to meditate and digest your answers. Once you’ve done that, you should begin to have a better vision and a sense of certainty about what your wish is for the holidays. That could be a balance between family time and time for yourself, or perhaps just time inventing your own tradition.
Whatever your decision is this holiday season, I hope you free your mind of any unnecessary thoughts that may trigger stressful thinking. The holidays are meant to be a joyous and relaxing time, but it is up to you to customize how you want to celebrate and recharge.
Happiest of Holidays,
What can we learn about forgiveness?
It is a question that continues to hit the core of our souls and hearts throughout our entire lives. Forgiving usually comes when we have been dealt with some kind of level of hurt. Hurt is often unexpected and can knock you to the ground emotionally, completely taking over your mind, and consuming your daily thoughts. It is not just hurtful actions, but words that leave a sting in our conscious and subconscious minds. But, how do we get past them, and how does one truly move on from hurt? Is the power of forgiveness the key to finding the peace we all deserve after dealing with heartache or tragedy?
Like many of you, I have always been a strong believer in igniting my mind to be better, act better, and engage myself to work on my own development. As the saying, goes, “if we are not learning, we are not growing.” I echo that statement and truly believe that forgiveness is a major force that can upward our thinking and strengthen our platforms in understanding and feeling more grounded.
What needs to be noted is that you are the owner of your own thoughts. No self-help book, spiritual guru, or even I, should ever tell you what you should or shouldn’t do when it comes to dealing with tragedy. That is your own journey to define. However, if you are open to looking for a guide or a dose of understanding when it comes to hurt, then I hope these points helps put your mind at ease and opens your perspective on the topic of forgiveness.
1.) Control The Clock
Everyone wants to feel an element of control when they are hit with hurt. It’s a natural reaction when our emotions go through moments of ups and downs, feeling of being taken advantage of, or when your feelings truly do get hurt. I encourage you to use time as a tool to help you process and find the peace to forgive. Time is always on your side when it comes to finding forgiveness and strength. Whether it is one day, one week, one year, or 10 years, remember that you are in control of that timeline. There is no rule book when it comes to forgiveness. Depending on what occurred, I suggested you let the other person know that you need time to process—especially if it is somebody you deeply care about. Articulating your words and expressing that you need space actually helps build that bridge to finding a resolution.
2.) Keep Off Social Media
We have all seen those posts where people’s dirty laundry is aired out on their social media platforms. Facebook seems to be more of an open diary for people to make these personal and often passive aggressive statements. If you have been in a predicament or situation where hurt has occurred, I suggest you stay off of social media until you are able to fully reflect and own your feelings. The Internet has a way of making everything worse, as pictures and messages are often misread or taken too personally. Plus, the un-follow button is often used as a tactic to deliver a message of how you are really feeling in the moment. So, before you go off and start pressing buttons, take a step back and disconnect from your laptop or iPhone. Part of the forgiving process involves having clarity and comfort in your own mind. That is hard to do when your brain is occupied with Facebook riddles and rants.
3.) Find the Understanding
Getting to that point of forgiveness is a process that involves understanding and respect from both parties. If neither respect or understanding are on the table, then it will be difficult for any kind of resolution to occur. Sometimes you have to simply agree to disagree and move on. That is not always that simple depending on what happened in the past. But, it must be noted that every one of us has asked for forgiveness at some point in our life. It may not have been the same kind of hurt or the exact situation but we know what it is like when our heart aches for healing and forgiveness from others.
4.) Customize Your Forgiveness
In times of greater tragedy, one must take a different approach and look within one’s own self to decide what level of forgiveness you are most comfortable with. Does forgiving someone that deliberately hurt you or caused you harm actually mean reconnecting with them all together? I think not. Sometimes, having a conversation with yourself, your form of faith, or your own soul is just enough. The best part is that you get to decide what will give you peace. You get to customize your form of forgiveness because everyone’s feelings and thoughts are going to be different. That is the beauty of forgiveness. We are all able to choose what works best for us.
There is no right or wrong when it comes to forgiveness because life and the challenges that we are presented with are not ever that clear-cut. There are two sides to every situation and different levels of hurt, harm and heartache. I challenge you to think about any unresolved matter from your past. If it is something that is continuously on the forefront of your mind, perhaps it needs to find an opportunity to be released. The good news – you get to define what that looks like. My only hope is that it brings you the progress and the peace that you deserve.
With Love and Gratitude,
My first job in Los Angeles was working for the celebrity news show, E! News, where I was presented with the opportunity to star in a Style Network wedding special for Giuliana and Bill Rancic in Capri, Italy. I felt like the luckiest guy in the world as I always wanted to plan an extravagant wedding and travel to such a gorgeous island. Did I mention, it was all going to be captured on camera – it felt too good to be true! The wedding special lead to my breakout role in the “Giuliana and Bill” show and I later went on to star in E!’s “The Drama Queen.”
During the early process of filming reality television, I found myself feeling super energized, incredibly excited and thankful for the opportunity to be around all the cameras, lights, producers, and crew. Starring in non-scripted television shows was a dream of mine ever since I moved to Los Angeles almost a decade ago. At that point in my life, I was super passionate about making it on TV and being part of the entertainment and Hollywood buzz! I use to think, who would not want to be around movie premieres, red carpets, fashion shows, press junkets, award shows and all that showbiz has to offer?!
However, being on reality television showed me the different sides of the entertainment industry, and made me think about what I wanted to accomplish in life. It really allowed me take a moment to sit back and reevaluate my sense of purpose. At the end of the day, everyone wants to feel like they matter and have value but for some reason I found myself feeing really down. Everything that I always dreamt about was coming true and happening right before my very eyes so I could not understand why my gut was telling me to move on. I was unhappy and could not pinpoint why.
Since as far back as I can remember, I’ve always been motivated by the women in my life. From my mother, sisters, aunts, cousins, grandma and best friends, I have always had a close and special bond between each of them. Perhaps, other gay men feel this way too but I always felt a unique connection with the ladies in my life. Growing up, my lovely gal-pals would always come to me with their problems and use me as a sounding board when dealing with break ups, friendship drama, family issues and of course fashion choices. Some would even joke around and introduce me as their “other hubby.” At an early age, I really learned to appreciate the strength of women in all areas especially when I saw them be courageous in time of divorce, drug abuse, eating disorders, etc. Their strength and overcoming such battles was truly an inspiration to me. What can be so powerful about friendship is that two souls have the ability to lift each other up, guide each other and support each other in more ways then one. Maybe having that balance and unconditional love is what really makes the relationship between women and gay men so special. Yes, we have been known to have similar interests but there is an indescribable energy of pure joy when we are in the same room.
A good example of this was when I was going through my own moments of sadness and questioning my happiness. During the reality show filming, I met a woman that was an entrepreneur and philanthropist that came into my life at just the right time. We quickly started a friendship and later began working together. She showed me all that life has to offer outside of Hollywood. I learned about working internationally in the areas of real estate, fashion, finance, and business along with seeing other entrepreneurs build up their own companies and add value into the world. I started to feel a huge upward shift in my life, I was inspired by all the hard working people I met, the different cultures and new drive instilled in me.
I guess you can say the takeaway from all this is that what happens to you in life does not matter but what you become through those experiences is what is important. Today, I wake up feeling a huge sense of appreciation for not only the person that I’ve become, but for the women that helped me along the way. They are the forces that inspired me to start writing.
God Bless and Cheers To You All,