Are you staying on top of the commitments you made at the 1st of the year? New Years has come and gone which only means those ever so popular resolutions may or may not be on the table anymore. Listen, I am not one to make resolutions because I like to set small goals for myself throughout the year. I find them to be more helpful, and more in-tune with whatever is happening in my present life. On the flip side, I do appreciate grander scale goals like a New Years resolution as a good mental kick in the butt. Like many of you, I wanted to launch into 2017 like a rocket with clarity, more motivation, and a wish list of accomplishments and improvements I’d like to work on. So, now that January is out of the way and February has come and gone, I thought I’d give myself a status report on my new year goal setting. I challenge you to do the very same as the two-month mark is the best time to check in with yourself and see if you’ve been on top of your A-game.
For those of you that are familiar with my articles, you know that I like to keep it real. There is no sugar coating when it comes to my advice or when it comes to motivating others to live with a stronger outlook and a more consistent flow of happiness. In my family and close circle of friends, I am the go-to guy on saying it how I mean it! Speaking of sugarcoating, can I get an “AMEN” that giving up sugar is one of the hardest challenges when it comes to eating healthier. Yes, one of my goals this year was cutting out sugar and dairy from my diet. The combination of the two d’s is a real struggle, especially since ice cream is one of my all time favorite treats. I could eat a pint of ice cream like it was my day job. However, that is not the best hobby when wanting to keep my waistline in tact. So, I made a commitment to step up my gym workouts and step down my sugar intake. For the most part, besides a date night or two, it has been good riddance to hardy desserts. One of my obstacles with sugary indulgences is that I cannot have “a bite” – it is all or nothing for me. I don’t even like to share desserts, that is how much I enjoy them (see, at least I’m honest!). After two months though of omitting sugar from my daily dose, I definitely have less cravings and I’ve noticed a big difference in my physique. That is always the most gratifying part – when you can actually see a physical improvement. What helped me kick sugar to the curb and assisted me in keeping my eye on my goals like eating healthier and turning up the volume on working out were the following steps. Perhaps, you too have been on the same path or maybe these will inspire you to get back in focus. In any case, I know you can do it! Take a peak on what has helped me:
Track what you eat. I purchased a little notebook and wrote down everything that I ate each day. It not only gave me an overview of what I was putting into my body, it made me more accountable. Writing it down made me “own” my food decisions even more. And, it also helped me plan better for meals (did I mention it can make your grocery list much easier –ha!).
Eat out less. Cook more meals home and get educated on portion sizes. Going to out to dinner is fun and all but menus are not always geared toward eating cleaner.
Find a friend. The buddy-system is always a plus especially when it is with somebody that is extra supportive and can make you laugh throughout your journey. Yes, there is always humor to be found when accomplishing a goal.
Take pictures. I love a before and after! They can also help track your progress. However, I don’t suggest posting onto social media – keep them for yourself. Don’t forget you are doing this for you, not anybody else.
Use Your Gym As A Resource. My boyfriend and I recently joined a new gym that has really motivated us to workout harder. Many people that go there are training for competitions. Their hard work and dedication is very inspiring. I’ve also found it very helpful to ask questions on meal prepping and certain workout techniques.
Head Outside. Whether it is snow or shine, I want you to take in the fresh air. Get your body in motion by walking around your neighborhood, on a bike ride, or up a hiking trail. Connecting with nature is only going to stimulate your brain.
Meditate. You don’t need to bust out the yoga mat and sit with your legs crossed. However, I do recommend taking ten minutes out of your day to “zen out.” That moment of inner peace with allow you find a place of calm. When your mind is calm, you can better prioritize your day.
So, if your New Years resolutions motivation has gone caput, I hope you do relight the fire within you and give it another ago. With only two months down, you still have the rest of 2017 to turn your goals into a reality.
I wish you nothing but success!
For all the brides-to-be in the world, I must admit we have something in common – we both appreciate the joys of everything and anything wedding!! If you are currently planning your big day or your man just “put a ring on it,” then I think we both can strongly agree that weddings and the celebration of marriage is simply AWESOME!
I’m obsessed with all the excitement wedding days have to offer, especially when it involves a couple that is truly in love. You see, it is not all about the dress and throwing a totally off-the-hook party. To me, what makes a wedding super special and memorable is when your guests can see the energy of love between the couple getting married. Pure love is the most powerful feeling in the universe, and seeing two people that genuinely care for each other exchange vows and commit to one another is so encouraging.
If you put all the bling and fancy event planning to the side, weddings are really about honoring the relationship and love of people wanting to share their life together and celebrating their soul commitment.
Like many things in life, the “typical wedding day” is evolving especially if you would like to add a modern twist to it. I think we can all agree that guests these days often expect a unique element at least once throughout the day. How many of you have watched all those creative engagement story videos, dancing groomsmen, comedic speeches and well-rehearsed first dances on Youtube? Pretty talented and amazing clips, right?!
When my gal pal Michelle asked me to be a “bridesman” in her Malibu wedding, I was beyond honored and super thrilled to see her break the traditional wedding party mold. Being a bridesman sounded right up my alley, and I could not have been more grateful to stand by her side while she married her equally fantastic hubby, Chad.
Having the duty and title of a bridesman is a big job, just like any bridesmaid would expect. You are involved every step of the way, and if you happen to have the skills and insight on throwing an elegant bash, than you should kindly add your oh-so-fabulous expertise when asked. Wedding planning is all about the fine details, and no body knows how to zero in on the specifics than your GBF (Gay. Best. Friend). Let me first stop for a moment and say that a bridesman does not have to be your gay bestie, but should be a guy that means a lot to you and has been there for you through the long run like a brother, childhood friend, cousin, etc. I met Michelle many years back when we both rocked super short haircuts and bonded by driving with the top down, Thelma & Louise style to the beach with the music blaring. It was friendship fireworks at first sight and our relationship grew even closer after the 2 of us fell in love with men of our own. From dinner parties, day trips, to Disneyland adventures, we had created so many unforgettable memories together over the years.
Michelle and Chad’s big day was a complete blast but it took some work, and many steps before the spectacular event. Being a Pinterest Princess in her own right, Michelle had her vintage-vineyard theme down to a T! Months gearing up to the wedding involved a handful of dress shopping outings (which obviously were super successful since I made her play “Say, Yes to the Dress”), hair salon appointments (introducing her to extensions took strategy) and how can I forget her bridal shower. Another neat thing about being a bridesman is that you may get invited to both the bachelor party and the bridal shower! I, along with a house full of bridesmaids (and one handsome boyfriend), celebrated the bride-to-be surrounded by the gorgeous nature of Sonoma County. I highly recommend traveling to such a destination, especially if you appreciate a good glass of wine. What made all these moments so special is that everyone involved were believers of love. We were so happy that our friend found her soul mate.
The morning of Michelle and Chad’s wedding, I remember thinking to myself what a journey this past year has been for the both of them. All their hard work in putting their day together really paid off. The tables were set, flowers in place and dance floor ready to go. The biggest highlight of the entire day, though, was hearing my dear friends say, “I Do.” Nothing is more extraordinary than that exchange.
I have made it a point and my purpose to write about my love for women and show my gratitude for how the women in my life have influenced me, motivated me, and inspired me the most. I’ve worked for strong women all my adult life and been surrounded by women with voices and opinions since I was a young boy. From my mother, sisters, aunts, cousins, to the handful of female best friends that have stuck by me and encouraged me to just be – me. Yes, I’ve definitely have had the support of men but my truth is my truth, and it has been the words and the example of women that made me think, made me stronger, and made me the very best me.
When my two nieces, Natalie and Colette were born, my eyes opened wider to the topic of women empowerment. My grateful heart started to beat even stronger with purpose wanting to see the world they live in become one with equal opportunity and rights that support them to be leaders, bosses, and – yes, fighters. Freedom fighters, equality fighters, and human right fighters
With all eyes from around the globe on the United States these days, I call out the men in the world to stand up taller and to speak up louder for their wives, their sisters, their mothers, daughters and the women in their life. A few weeks ago, the Women’s March brought out just these types of men, the ones that raised their young daughters up on their shoulders, the ones that held signs, wore pink, marched and rallied. If you are a woman reading this article, my intent for this piece is to let you know that I and thousands of other men support you, are here for you, and will continue to be. Yes, your voices are loud enough, we hear you loud and clear but we honor your words and echo your words. For the men reading this article, let us take a hammer to the stereotype and that feeling many of you have when it comes to standing up for women. Call it what you may, but there is indeed an insecurity amongst men when it comes to talking openly and publically about women’s rights.
Do you feel that other important political topics like gun laws and homeland security are more socially acceptable for men to have a public opinion about than lets see equal pay, domestic violence, and women’s healthcare?
I think a lot of it boils down to fear and the running old topic of what is masculine vs. feminine. Yes, I believe there are men out there that truly think that standing up for women on social media, out loud, publicly, or amongst other men is looked at to be not masculine. Why? Well, we can fill up pages and pages on the world’s history, religious views, and society norms of men and women. But, I’d rather focus on today and get your wheels turning in a forward motion so that we provoke progress, change, and work to shatter any labels or stereotype when it comes to showing support for women.
What we know to be true is that everyone is going to have an opinion with current events. There are some topics that will naturally connect and relate more to one person than another. But, if we want women’s rights to be brought even more center to the world stage, we need more people and more men to speak up with you too.
We need them to not just understand but to use their platforms and be the example to young boys, that they respect women and their rights.
I ask you to turn to your husband, boyfriend, brother, sons, guy friends and have a conversation to see what their thoughts are on women’s rights. Some may already know the various areas where women are not treated equal and know about the many other challenges you face. But, I believe many are aware there is an issue but don’t necessary know the specifics and the severity.
What they see on television and what they already know may certainly be very different from what you think they know. And, people in general only know what they know. So, lets educate, listen, and encourage the men of the world to not be afraid to use their voices when it comes to women’s rights. Challenge them, teach them, and bring examples of how your rights are not just women’s rights but human rights. We are all connected and all affected.
My mission is to get more men to stand with you, to say thank you to the men that already do, and to work together so that equality becomes more of a reality and that we fight for what is right. Let us unite.
With Love and Gratitude,
After 7 years of being together, my boyfriend Nick and I have often wondered if, when and how we would have children. Both of us come from large Italian families that would very much embrace us having kids of our own. During the recent holidays we were asked by a handful of relatives if we ever wanted to be parents. A question like that really does make you think! It made me reflect on how far society has come in the fight for equality and human rights. I know there is a lot more work to go but we are so grateful with all the progress and that there are many LGBT families leading the way. Nick and I have always been so inspired by gay couples that have children and celebrities that use their platform to show such a beautiful example of love and family. Neil Patrick Harris and his husband David are such an inspiration. I remember watching their amazing Oprah interview a couple years ago and calling up my parents to turn on the television – I said, “that is what Nick and I want someday.”
Interesting enough, I never was the guy that wanted to have babies. In my twenties I could not even imagine myself being a dad. Just the thought of waking up in the middle of the night to the sound of crying seemed so dreadful (yes, I absolutely love my sleep). I would also get annoyed when I would see kids misbehaving in restaurants, causing a scene and disrupting dinner. Thankfully, my mindset changed drastically when my older sister, Jackie, had her two daughters. It is safe to say that my nieces, Natalie Clare & Colette Marie put a whole new perspective on my view of parenting and idea of having little ones of my own.
Jackie and I have an extremely close bond, we are 11 months apart (I was very premature and my parents were very busy), and have been each other’s rocks throughout our entire life. She is usually my first phone-call of the day and has always spoken up for me when I struggled to find my own voice. Jackie leads the pack of our sibling posse of four and we all love seeing her as a mom. After giving birth, Jackie and her husband, John, asked me to be the Godfather to their first born, Natalie Clare. I remember sitting in my living room having an overwhelming feeing come over me that I never felt before. Being asked to be Godfather felt like such a huge honor. For me, it meant that there would be a spiritual connection between my niece and I. It would also mean I would be responsible for her if anything were to happen. The moment I held Natalie Clare in my arms, I cried my eyes out. She was so little, so innocent and looked so peaceful. My boyfriend and I still get very emotional whenever we hear the sweetness of her voice and the kindness of her soul.
Now at age 4, Natalie has grown to be a very smart little girl. She knows that Uncle Matt and Uncle Nick love each other and a couple (just like Mommy and Daddy and Nanny and Poppie). My sister and brother-in-law have raised their children to have no judgment and that everyone is equal. Seeing Natalie with such an open mind really makes me think about how so much of the hate going on in the world stems from what we learn at home. Can you imagine what the Earth would be like if there was more love and acceptance being taught? There are some people out there that can really learn a lot from the eyes of a 4 year old.
These days, I often use the term “Guncle,” especially if I need a cool hash-tag on Instagram. You have probably heard it before – the blending of the words “gay uncle.” When I think about it from a fun and light-hearted point of view, I really love being called it. For gay men, if you can’t be a parent, you can certainly be a Guncle! It is a big responsibility but so incredibly rewarding. My nieces really do think I build the best Lego houses, tell the greatest princess stories, host the most fun tea parties, and always in the mood to sing a song from Frozen.
Who knows if Nick and I will ever have children, it is something we are going to focus on later down the road. But, what we do know is that we will always have two beautiful nieces in our life. For now, I think we will take advantage of spoiling them and dropping them off at their mom and dads (ha!).
With all jokes aside, what I’ve learned through this whole experience of being a Guncle is that there is nothing more precious than feeling the love of a child and for a child. Seeing them grow into their own personalities is so fascinating. I also have so much more admiration for all the mothers and fathers out there – wow! My hat goes off to all of you.
My only wish is that I hope you teach your children the importance of equality. There are all kinds of families out there who love the same.
Show your kids that everyone deserves compassion.
May God bless us all.
Through all the years of growing up, I tried hard to be a positive person. Like with most of you out there, life has not always been easy, and at times that was very challenging. But more than that, I learned that there is a difference between being a positive person and pretending I am always happy to please other people.
My childhood was when I went through some of the most difficult times. I was constantly in a mind game with myself to try and focus my thoughts on being happy even though what was going on around me and in my own head felt like the complete opposite. In the fifth grade, I was given the nickname “Smiley,” as I always had a big smile on my face. I was showing everyone my happy exterior, but on the inside I battled with my confidence, sense of self, and knowing that I was just different from the other boys in my class.
As the years went on and I got older, I continued to hide my true feelings even more. One of the many reasons was that I did not completely understand what was going on in my own mind. Coming to terms with being gay and finding your own identity is not the easiest thing to do. You go through all kinds of emotions including the back-and-forth denial and the feeling that something is wrong with you. At such an early age when you feel different, you feel vulnerable. And when you feel vulnerable, you don’t feel safe. It is not a good place to be in.
Part of me also had an issue with telling my parents and other relatives what was going on because I did not want to disappoint them, and I did not want to bring what I thought was extra “problems” onto them. It was almost like I wanted to show them that I was always happy so they did not have to be concerned or deal with any extra worry.
I have since realized that I was very much what they call a people pleaser. Making sure others were feeling happy over my own emotions was very much a part of my make up. One small example I remember during junior high was when my grandfather gave me a cool new jacket, which I wore to school the following day. One of the older kids in a higher grade came up to me and asked if he could wear it that entire day. Part of me was probably scared of what he would do if I had said no, but the other part did not even think to not say no. I gave him my jacket. I felt like such a fool, so weak and deflated after doing that.
This may resonate with some of you, especially if you have a tough time expressing how you really feel or doing what you really want to do. Perhaps that is because you don’t want to hurt other people, or you want other people to be in a good mood, even if that affects you negatively. This carried on with me, even when I was older and working at E! News. I was so serious and focused on making my boss happy in any way that I could, that it consumed every last bit of me. It made me feel like I was excelling in my career to one degree but, at the same time, it was draining me.
During this time, one of my dear friends at E! asked me during our work day if I could run with him quickly to grab a cup coffee. I remember thinking he was crazy and kindly telling him I did not have the time. He looked at me straight in the eyes and basically told me that “I needed to get a life,” as everybody is allowed to get a break from time to time. I was so hard on myself and engulfed in being overly available at work that taking time to grab coffee seemed like a luxury. His words really stuck with me, and I began to reflect about the way I was thinking.
I started to ask myself, “What do I want?” “How do I feel?” “What do I deserve?” That was when I came to a crossroad in my life and made the decision to change. Since then, I have realized that it is so important to take your own feelings into consideration and speak up no matter what the circumstance.
I don’t know why it took me so long to find my own voice, but it feels so good to say what you mean and mean what you say. The first few times I was able to say, “No, thank you,” to something I did not really want to do felt incredibly liberating. Now, I am very conscious of my feelings and very aware of the difference between being a positive person and pretending everything is OK when it’s not. I now live with the mission that “yes” really does mean yes, and “no” really does means no. It is that simple.
If you find it difficult to speak your mind or feel pressured into making a decision, please know that it is always appropriate to take time to digest your own thoughts and feelings before giving an answer. Whether it is something as small as committing to weekend plans, or something big like what the next move you want to make in a relationship or career is, always be aware that you are in control. You are the owner of your words, and nobody is allowed to take that from you.
I have been really open about my sexuality in my writing and on the E! Television shows I starred in. As an adult, it is very freeing for me to be my authentic self as much as possible—especially on such a public platform. I believe there is no way of truly connecting with people unless you are able to let your guard and ego down. You’d be surprised how much that does not happen in reality television or in Hollywood in general.
With that said, as a young boy I was not always able to be my true self. Part of that had to do with the path of just growing up and figuring out myself. Yep, all a part of life that I am sure every single one of us goes through. There were the obvious society mind blocks and the outside noise that teaches how you “should be” and how you “should act.” Whether that is from parents, religion, the media, social media, television shows, etc., there is a general influence on young people and how they should think. All can be very confusing for anyone questioning themselves or trying to understand their sexuality for that matter.
For years, I fought against the “you should act like” and this is what “normal is” remarks. It was a mental battle I eventually won.I pray for the kids that commit suicide or that are bullied for being gay. I pray for the LGBT men and women in countries where they are brutally attacked, killed with no law to protect them.
When the Supreme Court gay marriage ruling was announced recently, I had a moment where tears rushed down my face. It was an overwhelming sense of joy, gratitude for the leaders in the LGBT community that fought so hard and the powerful feeling of acceptance for not just my boyfriend and I, but for the younger generation who will have a somewhat easier road ahead of them. History was made that day. Sadly, there was also some backlash from people. I expected that, but not from somebody I am related to. A very distant cousin (key word: very) wrote a hateful comment on my Facebook wall. It not only shocked me, it completely disappointed other family members, especially my super supportive parents.
What bothered me the most was that it felt like a direct attack on me. Then, I started to question why this cousin would do such a heartless act. Why did she not keep her opinion to herself? What was her intent, and why did she feel it was necessary to add negativity to such a historic day? Was she coming at me from a political view or a religious view? Why the hate?
It got me thinking about how much of our views are instilled in us at a very early age and how that shapes so much of who we become to a certain degree. This family member I am speaking of comes from a whole other older generation. Much of what she knows is from a very small bubble. Perhaps, her view of God is different from mine. Perhaps, she is expressing her rights just as much as I am expressing mine. There is one massive difference. My God, comes from a different place. My connection with God comes from a place of no judgment, compassion, love and the clear fact we are all created equal and should be treated equal. That is what I believe in.
So who do I pray to?
The God that I know accepts me, accepts you, accepts each and every one of us.
Religion and spirituality have always fascinated me. I have vivid memories of early grade Catholic School. The nuns, the religious lessons, going to mass, the teachings of Jesus and how can I ever forget the uniforms. The Catholic religion was introduced to me at an early age, and I was baptized, went to church, had my Holy Communion, etc.
The older I became though, and the more I learned about what being gay meant, including that it was not accepted in the Catholic church, it all confused the heck out of me. This is all on top of being called a faggot on the playground. Can you imagine what I was thinking?
There were many areas in the Catholic religion that didn’t make sense to me. Why did such a holy place that preached about loving thy neighbor not accept all neighbors who practice kindness and are genuinely good people that give back to the world and believe in God?
Later on in my life, and before I came out of the closet, one of the many things that helped guide me was tapping into my own relationship with God outside of the Catholic church’s walls. The more in tune I became with who I was, the stronger the faith within myself grew. There is something so powerful you experience when you not only accept yourself but also accept that there is a higher power who accepts you too. I stopped focusing on what society and religion had taught me, and rather what I knew about the God I prayed to at night.
It brought me peace and a stronger connection to my own spirituality.
I live a life with love in my heart and a God on my side.
Yes, I was born gay. Yes, God loves me.
Today is Monday and it is going to be wonderful. Uh-oh. Did I already lose your attention? Please allow me to elaborate. You see, I told myself last night that today was going to be a really great day, one of the best days of the entire week. No, it is not my birthday or a national holiday, just your usual ol’ Monday sitting center stage waiting for you to give it some applause.
Call me crazy, but I have to say that Monday has a really bad rap. Of all the days of the week, it is the one day that gets the most negativity. I believe there are ways to turn that around so you have a more productive Monday and a more energetic week.
You see, Mondays were not always my favorite day either. I used to wish there was some magically added extra day between Sunday and Monday. Or, when three-day weekends rolled around, I would think that I had died and gone to the best week heaven. Not having to face that dreadful Monday morning always sounded so delicious to me. Then I got to thinking, would we all feel the same way about Tuesday if Monday turned into a day off? Are we automatically programmed to be unhappy when it comes to starting a new week? There has to be something underneath why so many people wish Monday would just go away.
A while ago, I decided to challenge myself, the way I thought about starting a new week and the way I looked at Monday. To be honest, a lot of my negative thinking had to do with my job. For me, changing where I worked had much to do with my motivation and outlook. A dear friend once told me, “You have to love two things in life: Your mattress and your job, because that is where you spend the most time.” I had gotten the mattress part down, but I was destined to reinvent my career. I know that changing jobs is a big deal, but I discovered the more I enjoyed what I did at work, the easier it was for me to jump feet first into Monday. However, transitioning into a new position (that you love!) takes time, so I started to make simple changes in my everyday life that helped boost me to have a healthier and stronger mindset on Monday.
Here are a few helpful tips on how to rewire your brain and start thinking of Monday as more of a kick start than a slow start.
Turn Up The Tunes
Let’s begin with that morning drive to work. If you live in a metropolitan area like LA, New York, Boston or Philly, then I am probably singing to your choir. Traffic is the absolute worst and can really drain a person’s energy. Definitely not the best way to start off your day. Unfortunately, we have to come to peace that rush hour traffic is not ever going to change. Everyone has a place to be, and the roads are not going to suddenly widen and make room for all the other cars. Don’t engage in what you can’t control. Traffic is not going anywhere. Instead of transforming into a road rage monster, why don’t you preplan your bumper-to-bumper experience by organizing a custom feel good playlist? Did you know that singing to your favorite tunes boosts endorphins?
Add Kindness To Your Coffee
If you get an early start to your Monday, stop at your favorite coffee or tea hot spot. Treating yourself to a specially brewed pot of Joe will give you a reward at the wee hours of the morning. A once-a-week gift to yourself won’t break the bank either. See, you are already off to the right start. I also suggest going inside the actual shop rather than a drive thru so you can engage with a barista or other customers in line. Exchanging some kind of smile or friendly dialogue will add an extra shot of happy energy to your day. You will be surprised how nice it feels when you hold the door open for somebody, say “How are you?” and wait for an answer, or even allow yourself time to sit for a moment to relax and actually taste your coffee. A few minutes of “meditation” in this way has never hurt anyone before.
Stop The Complaining
I continue to have a love/not-so-love relationship with Facebook as I’ve lately found it to be a sounding board for complainers. There is so much negativity running through people’s Facebook feeds it is nuts! If you are one of those people who must log on to the social network site as soon as you get to work (I don’t recommend that), than why don’t you post something with a more positive message? Writing something like, “Ugh. I wish I was still in bed” or “This weekend was not long enough” has a negative and un-motivating vibration to it. It not only sends out a lackluster update to your “friends” that you sort of hate your life, and a signal to your mind that you are in the dumps. What I’ve done is unfollowed people who enjoy sharing their misery and rather used social media as a tool to get more encouraging messages. You know that saying, “You are who you hang out with?” Well, we might as add: “You are who you follow” to that too.
Wear Your Favorite Outfit
Ladies and gentleman this is one of my favorite tips. I know I will get some eye rolls for this one but please hear me out. Save your best outfit for Monday. It will help you feel more confident (along with showing your coworkers you have a brilliant sense of style) and will make those Monday blues feel like last season. A killer outfit makes us feel good. When we look good, we feel good and there is no better day to show off that fashionably goodness than Monday.
Change Up Your Co-Worker Conversation
Listen, there is typically one Debbie Downer in every office. Try not to engage in conversation with that person. The typical question most people get on a Monday morning from their near by coworkers is, “How was your weekend?” Most often, people ask that question as a standard way of politeness, but there are those few who use it as a gateway question so they can respond with all their personal drama. Avoid engaging in a low energy dialogue that is going to take your AM high to a zero. Monday back at work should be fueled with drive, determination, optimism and a willingness to succeed.
Not every day is going to be perfect, but I am not asking for perfect. I challenge you to start this Monday off with a more positive bang so you allow yourself to maneuver through the week with clarity, control and consistency.
From me to you – Have an awesome day! I know you will!!
I am a sucker when it comes to Valentine’s Day. Please forgive me for loving a day that is filled with chocolate heart boxes, cupid shaped cards, and stunning red roses. The balloons, the candlelit dinners, the lovey-dovey messages… it all totally gets my heart beating. I can fully admit that I turn to utter mush when it comes to anything romance. Romance is my kryptonite, and it always has been.
For all you single peeps out there, let me first stop you from clicking to another article or turning your eyes to something else on the Internet. I can help you out. Please allow me to inspire you with a small dose of my “gay best friend” words of wisdom for a moment. You see, I clearly know that Valentine’s Day is not all about that fluffy pink and red commercial stuff, and if you read up on the history regarding this holiday, than you will understand that the overall essence is derived from the celebration of love. So, whether you are newly single, recently-dumped, divorced, widowed, or not looking for love, I am here to tell you there is an “A-ha light bulb” lesson to be learned from Valentine’s Day and the way you react to it.
As I’ve mentioned, for those of you out there that are not locked up in a relationship, please know my goal is to not turn you off. That is actually quite the contrary, as my wish for you this Valentine’s Day is to open your mind to the greater picture and why responding negatively when February 14th rolls around is not doing you any favors.
I’ve obviously been alone on Valentine’s Day before (we’ve all been there), and it is not “the best” feeling in the world. I completely understand how you would not be jumping out of bed with the sudden urge to shout your happiness from the tallest mountaintop. I am not asking you to do that or overexert yourself into making this pro-couple date your favorite day of the year. However, over time I have noticed that a lot of people go out of their way to hate on it. You’ve seen those not-so-nice Facebook posts, the snarky articles, cheeky Instagram quotes, and probably know of a few family members and friends that absolutely despise Valentine’s Day. I believe that changing your reaction and emotion into a more civilly compassionate mindset will reflect a higher feeling of positive energy from within yourself and into your everyday life.
Take a peak at a few insightful tips on how being a hater on this holiday is not the right attitude or helping your path to having a healthy relationship of your own.
Complaining Gets You Nowhere
Bitter Betty’s party of one? Your table is ready. What is moaning and complaining going to do or change in making your Valentine’s Day any better? Saying “I’m single once again this year” is consciously sending a signal to your brain to feel depressed. Instead of concentrating on what you don’t have (like a significant other), why not affirm that you woke up healthy, with a job, friends, family and a purpose for life. You know that famous quote, “Gratitude turns what you have into enough…” well post it on your bathroom mirror that day. Having gratitude for the areas of your life that are working out great should be a given. A partner to share them with only heightens that feeling of gratitude. So, for right now replace your complaining with being grateful.
Don’t Hate on Happiness
If seeing other couples happy makes you ill, then you’ve got a bigger problem than just Valentine’s Day. Being jealous, envious, and giving the evil eye to other people for being in a relationship shows that you have some kind of anger issue to conquer. You should want to see other people in happy situations.
Truly, grounded people only wish goodness for others. Besides, relationships and marriage is a whole other job. Instead of hating on them, why not give them an imaginary “thumbs up” for finding each other and making it work. You may be surprised by how your mind feels when you say, “Good for them!” to “Ugh, get a room!”
Avoid the “Why Not Me?” Questions
True love really rocks, and I think everyone deserves to experience the feeling of it. If you are asking yourself, “Why am I single?” I challenge you to ask yourself, “Am I happy?” instead. People are attracted to happiness and success. And by success, I mean living a life where you feel fulfilled and that you have a sense of purpose. People pick up on that emotion. So, if there is something that is bringing you down in life, why not first concentrate on changing that. That situation may be what is subconsciously pulling you away from expressing and showing that you are at a point of peace in your life. In order to accept love into your life, you need to actually love what is happening in your daily life.
Don’t Give Up
If you are a real believer in love, then don’t make Valentine’s Day be about “not having” someone. If you are receptive and open to being in love, than you will have it one day. It is not about “finding” it, it is about love coming into your life at the right moment. Don’t allow outside negativity to cloud your belief and dreams when it comes to loving another person. If you want it, if you are ready for it, it will enter your life.
I am going to close this article with something my boyfriend and I will be thinking about this Valentines Day as it truly captures the hearts of many people. This year was historic for America. After the Supreme Court Ruling on marriage equality this summer, it allowed for each and everyone one of us to celebrate love legally. Think about how special this Valentine’s Day is going to be for so many people this year. Whether married or not, they can now celebrate each other more openly. For those couples that never felt recognized or validated in years past, I hope you make this Valentine’s Day the most loving yet!
And, for everyone else out there that wants love in their life, please never stop believing in love. I hope your perspective on Valentine’s Day is seen as not just a couple’s holiday, but as a day where the power of love is celebrated.
In February, my boyfriend Nick’s grandmother died. The grieving is still harboring in our thoughts, the sound of her voice in our heads and the memory of her laying in her hospital bed still fresh in our minds. “Grandma” was very special to Nick and his family. She was also a very holy woman who had a passion for life along with a colorful sense of humor that could put a smile on your face in a matter of minutes.
Shortly before she went into the hospital—and following the death of her husband of 58 years—she made the decision to travel and see Nick and I in Los Angeles. It would have been her first vacation and flight since 1986. It felt like the biggest honor to have her choose to come see us first. We could not wait to have her in our home and show her around Hollywood. With Nick’s mom Mary in tow, the two lovely ladies were Los Angeles bound for a week of fun in the Southern California sun.
It was the first time I met Grandma and was introduced as Nick’s boyfriend, which was a special moment for Nick as he always had a sense of nervousness around telling his grandparents about us. To his ease, Grandma was not only accepting and showed such unconditional love, but she also was a firm believer that God never judged. Grandma treated us like any other couple and loved seeing how much we cared for each other. Her overall trip to LA was wonderful and filled with lots of laughs and memories, especially driving her to see the Pacific Ocean and hitting up some of Beverly Hills’ most famous bakeries. Grandma had a huge sweet tooth, which we all appreciated very much.
Many months after Grandma’s visit, she went in for a suggested heart surgery, which was supposed to help with her shortness of breath and boost her energy. Unfortunately, Grandma had two strokes during surgery. This was a massive devastation to Nick and his family as Grandma became immobile.
Seeing her not being able to drive, walk or go as she pleased was heart wrenching. It broke us down seeing Grandma lose her freedom. Once news of her stroke came, Nick and I booked a flight to Chicago so we could visit with her in the hospital. Grandma laid in her hospital bed with all kinds of different machines around her. It was a different sight than seeing her walk with a big smile in California.
She did not remember anything about the stroke or surgery but was aware something bad had happened. While we were sitting around her, a doctor came into the room and asked who all these people were, she smiled and said, “That is my daughter, Mary, my grandson Nick and my grandson Matt.” That made my heart so happy. Grandma was still so proud to tell everyone in the hospital that we came in from Los Angeles to see her and nicknamed us the “Sunshine Boys.” Before we traveled back home, she told us we brought light wherever we went.
Less than a year later, Grandma eventually passed on. We had gotten to see her a few times since she was in the hospital, but each visit we could see her spirit was getting ready to go. Her charm and contagious smile was there until the very end, and she never once complained about her situation. Not once. She was the prime example of a fighter and held on through the holidays. A big part of us had a sense of peace in her passing knowing that she was going to be met by her late husband on the other side. They could be free together, reunited as one. They had such a loving relationship that Nick and I admired and continue to strive for – that old-fashioned, long lasting love.
Matt Jacobi GrandmothersRecently, I went home to Arizona to see my own grandma, Clare DeAgostine, who we call “Nanny.” If you asked all 7 of her children, 13 grandchildren and 2 great-great children about what Nanny is like, they would all say she is the nicest woman you will ever meet. Being in her presence is always eventful, and she has the magic to make you feel like the most special person in the room. One of the many things I am so thankful for that Nanny has given me is the belief that all love is love and equal in her eyes. She led the way in showing her support for gay rights and equality in our family ever since I can remember. As a gay person, having that love and acceptance is pure gold.
During our day together, Nanny and I spent time out and about running errands. We got to talking about Nick’s grandma, and how he was feeling. Grandma’s passing put a lot into perspective for me. You never know when somebody close to you is going to leave the Earth. I was very young when my dad’s parents passed on, so the relationship with my Nanny is uniquely close.
While we sat across from each other, she leaned in and said to me, “As much joy Nick’s grandma brought to his life, you must remember that he brought so much into hers.” Those words hit the core of my soul, so much so it made me think and reflect with gratitude. I believe a lesson is to be learned for all of us from what my Nanny said: As much love we think we get from someone else, we must remember we are giving back a lot too.
We never know what we are doing for others. Love is so powerful, the most powerful form of emotion you can possibly feel. When it is bounced back from person to person, the energy of that feeling is indescribable. So, when you have that special bond with someone in your life, whether it is a family member, best friend, mentor or lover, don’t take it for granted. Allow for positivity to feed on positivity and cherish each moment you have with one another.
We all have “sunshine” within us. Choose to use it at its fullest.
June brings many exciting and fun filled activities like pool parties, family BBQ’s, summer holidays and more. One party that will be getting my RSVP is the celebration of Pride Month. I write this to you with the intent not to push any political views or opinions down your throat but to ignite your thinking – especially when it comes to the power of reflection. If you are a believer of true love, inner strength, liberation, and equality for all, than I hope my words shine the brightest light on your day.
You see I am a man that believes reflection is one of our greatest tools. It can get us through the rough patches of life and make us see the gratitude and growth within ourselves. Whenever I am faced with a challenging moment, I find a place of silence in my house, meditate on my thoughts, and think about the bigger picture at hand. What can I learn from? What worked in the past? How have I grown? What can I do to be better? Reflection and gratitude are the names of my game.
Recently, as the early days of June rolled around, I sat on my bed in a state of reflection that led to a mix of emotions. From compassion, thankfulness, happiness and some genuine tears. I was reminded that the one-year anniversary of the marriage equality ruling is just a few weeks away. For me, it meant looking back and honoring the history of the fight for equality and the brave LGBT leaders of our past and present. The ones who started a movement so that young people like myself could live in a country where I can love who I want, be who I am, and celebrate the simple fact that love is love.
This point of reflection was even more significant about a month ago as my fiancé Nick proposed to me! We made it a point to digest not just our own history as a couple but acknowledge our country’s long road to marriage equality and the true freedom fighters that got us there. To all the people who marched, used their voices, set an example, and continued to speak up in the name of love – we salute you. To the politicians who pioneered the revolution of love for equality across our country – we are so deeply grateful.
This beautiful moment reminded me of how helpful reflection can be whether you are celebrating something wonderful or dealing with a life challenge. Taking time to breathe and filter back on where you are now, where you have been, and who helped you along the way will always guide you to gratitude. Our greatest and most historic world leaders all have a unique story of self-growth, struggle, and heartache. The most substantial and most meaningful moments in life never come easy. There have and always will be deep learning takeaways from life’s most monumental times in history. Please don’t forget that.
I encourage you to use your mind as a tool and reflect on your own history. You should do this when life has presented you with the most joyous of moments but also when you are in need of direction and guidance. The powerful magnetic energy between reflection and gratitude is your key to opening up your thoughts and bringing out the root of your happiness. We’ve all heard that putting life into perspective helps us make healthier decisions. That is most certainly true, but it is much more than that. It is about taking accountability and acknowledging to yourself that you have not gotten from point A to point B alone, nor has it been smooth sailing from start to finish. Own your story and the journey you have been on. Find thankfulness for what you learned, what you overcame, who was there, and what pure goodness you are presently surrounded by.
Seeing the rays of light through moments of reflection is what it is all about. Your own history happened for a reason, it is up to you to go back through your previous chapters and remind yourself how lucky you are and what you have learned along the way.
Whether you will be celebrating Pride Month or not, my wish for you is to take pride in your own self, take time to reflect on your own journey and find compassion and respect for the people around you.
Our own individual stories may be unique, and our pages may tell a different tale, but the one word that should keep us all united is love. There is no greater emotion than the love you have for yourself and the love you share with someone else.
Continue to create memories, build on gratitude, and embrace the power of love.