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Last Chapter

Christmas came early for me; I’ve beenIMG_5529 waiting on this piece of paper so I could have all my degrees framed. I never knew holding it in my hands would stir up so many emotions because it is a reminder of the obstacles, sacrifices, long nights writing after work, and lack of support from people I received, but it also a reminder that I am the head and not the tail. I allowed the tears to flow because it has been a journey to hold this piece of paper.

Listen, God will delay some blessings until you remove the toxins & toxic people from your life. So stop wishing you had things earlier. Such as: Graduation, a professional license, promotion on your job, love, marriage, kids, new home, new car, career, or owning your own business. What God has for you is for you! The oil will not flow if it’s not meant for you! This is my journey to the finish line balancing, love life, relocating for a new career, purchasing a home, army medical reserves, professor, traveling consultant, working a full time demanding career as a clinical provider, and maintaining a 4.0 GPA. Don’t let anyone tell you can’t have it all at the same time 😘

Therapist Corner: The thing about a lesson is once you learn them, you don’t have to revisit them. Everything happens for a reason. Don’t stress the could haves. If it should have, it would have. Everything that happens to you can be used, felt, shaped, and transformed to further our journey. Now we have one month left to finish the book of 2017. Make the last chapter a good one 😘 I have been busy preparing and planning for 2018, and I look forward to sharing some of the exciting things I have been working on for next year.

The pain was temporary, and part of my journey but a doctoral degree is forever #blackpsychologist #armyofficer #depressionresearch #Ph.D. #blackboyjoy

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Two Months Left in 2017

We have less than two months left in 2017, so I decided to write about the past few months. In July, I had individuals from all various chapters of my life come together for one weekend to celebrate me passing my Oral Defense and closing the chapter of my Ph.D. journey. It meant a lot to have my support system fly in town from all over and locally to share in our success. Each and everyone who attended played an intricate part in my journey to the finish line.

In August, we traveled to Miami to celebrate the beginning of chapter 35. Chapter 33 & 34 had a lot of highs & lows, and I wasn’t sure at times, but I made it through the years. Miami was very relaxing and just what I needed after the year I had. I just needed time to reflect. The beautiful thing about reflecting is you have time to evaluate yourself and relationships. When I get stuck in thought, a feeling, or a relationship, and I am confused about getting unstuck, I start to evaluate myself. I take the time to observe myself without judgment or reproach can be a powerful tool for change. I pay attention to what I say, what I think, how I’m feeling, how I act, or how I’m reacting. It is important not to judge but observe. Self-Evaluation is essential because we need to evaluate ourselves and see what are you bringing to the relationship and if you can make some improvements.

I traveled home to spend some time with family. While at home I realized as I get older somethings change and at the same time somethings remain the same. Going home is always a reminder of why I decided that I would get my education and not return home to live for several reasons. One of the reasons being that once you have been exposed to different cultures, experiences, and traditions your mindset are entirely different and it is hard to return to comfort zones where things do not grow. Another reason is when I went to pick up my keys to my office space I was reminded that I was back in Louisiana. It was the entire experience that made me feel like I was a little boy back in middle school dealing with racism from my middle school teacher Mrs. Alford 4th grade class and I am an adult with a Ph.D. Just being in the bank it reminded me of when I was attending undergrad at Northwestern majoring in Finance, and I returned home during the summer seeking an internship at one of the banks, and nobody wanted to give me an opportunity because I was an African American Male. On the bright side, I was able to spend some quality time with my family and purchase items for my office. I had the opportunity to sit down and have a one on one talk with my sister, and it was a great conversation.

At the end of September, I had the opportunity to spend the weekend in Orlando with individuals who have been there for me since day 1. I have never questioned their friendship, love or loyalty for me. This past weekend I spent time with some genuine and authentic people. I also had the opportunity to spend some quality time with my best friend on her one year anniversary weekend. These past few months I am thankful I was able to surround myself with family and friends who I can look at and I see reflected back is my power. I have been in the DMV area for about four years, and I have met a lot of people. I have met some people that I cherish the relationships and plan to keep for a lifetime and others were seasonal people who will not make it to the next chapter. The DMV is the first place I have lived where I have met so many pretentious people who are not authentic, humble, and genuine. I have met individuals who try to convince you that they have all your answers, which you need them to be able to see clearly, that without them you won’t be able to find the way. They don’t believe in you; they only believe in themselves. That’s not empowerment. That’s an approach destined to create dependency, often unhealthy dependency.

Moving forward in Chapter 35 I’ve made a decision that I am not going to continue to carry the weight of relationships that are not balanced or unhealthy in my life. I am going to stop holding onto people that have me on hold. I’ve agreed to make an effort to mend the relationships that are worth restoring, and I have reached out to those individuals who I need in my life. I’ve been reflecting on my life and focusing more on living for today and enjoying life while I can.

As adults, we are supposed to be evolving and growing on this journey we call life. This past weekend I admitted I enjoy helping and caring for others it is a part of my nature and making sure I reach out by visiting, texting, calling, and hosting events to foster relationships, and I am learning that some people only want to receive. I am also learning that people who have a thousand excuses why they are not providing anything in the connection. Meanwhile, I’m thinking to myself, I have several jobs, personal life, and yet I still make time to cultivate relationships. Relationships are supposed to be balanced. This point forward I am going to focus on the people who appreciate what I bring to the table. As I continue to grow, I am learning that it is perfectly fine to know when it’s time to stop or when my giving has become destructive. I care more about my relationship with my inner being than anything else. If I am not in alignment with myself, I have nothing to offer anyone.

Therapist Advice: Most of us need people around us who empower and help us feel able, on track, in balance, hopeful. We need people who tell us we can. Even if they don’t use words, they believe in us, and that belief shines through. Cultivate relationships with people who make you feel like you can, who help you know that you’re on track, right where you need to be. Spend time with people who support you know that you can trust yourself.

I’m working on the balanced relationships in my life. Three types of people to surround yourself with: the inspired, the excited, and the grateful. Who you surround yourself with is vital to your progression. Seek out people who empower you. Learn to empower those you love. And during those times when no one’s around, know that you can enable yourself.

We must learn who is gold, and who is merely gold plated. Thanks for everything and for being the real gold. A friend is a word we use every day, but most of the time we use it in the wrong way.

For many, the definition of a “friend” may be used a lot, yet friendship comes in various types of friends. Some are always on your side, and others just want to take you for a ride.  A real friend not only matches your spirit in excitement but also uplifts your spirits during the good and the bad times. Real friends can show you more than you can see. For me, my friends are a source of happiness and strength. I am grateful for all of you!

Love,

Dr. G

 

Cyber bullying!!! & Time Management 

After watching my sister’s video, please like and share the video because it has an excellent message and it made me think about something personal things with myself. After watching the video and all of the post on social media yesterday, I thought everyone’s a critic, except the people who do stuff or when it’s their mom, sister, aunt, friend, or brother. After watching the video, I started thinking about myself. It is exquisite that individuals take the time to think about how something resonates within us. It is easier to point the blame towards someone else. Yes, we are all guilty of gossiping, bullying, or expressing our personal opinion or problems at some point, but when you learn better, you do better. I have a lot of personal opinions about various things, but when you are a licensed provider, an officer in the United States Military, and work as a Federal employee, you understand about respect and expressing your personal opinions on social media.

I have noticed that I have limited my time on Facebook because it has started to remind me of Twitter. I stopped going on Twitter because I saw that it was becoming to be real messy, and everyone was throwing shade at someone. Facebook was a place where I was able to keep in touch with my family, and friends because I live a great distance from everyone and do not get home often as I would like. Now, when I log onto social media (Facebook), I have noticed that it has become real messy, and people are throwing shade. Other things I have seen it that Facebook have become more about impressing others, and people believe that you are doing great things in your professional and personal life.

It is important to realize time is of the essence but it doesn’t wait for anyone, but it’s priceless. Once you’ve lost it, you can never regain it. Imagine for a moment that you’re sitting alone on your bed, your Physician explained that you have about two months left to live and you ask yourself “How did I live my life?”, “Do I have any regrets?”, “Did I accomplish all of my goals?”, “Did I find love?”, “Did I accomplish all of my goals?”. It’s impossible to answer those questions without reflecting on how you spent your time on a daily basis. The biggest regret that people have on their deathbed is that they lived the life expected of them instead of a life true to themselves.

When you become cognizant of how you spend your time and things you value the most. You become aware of the choices you make, and you spend your time differently. You will notice your life evolving and moving to the next chapter. I have a schedule that I try to make sure I balance things. Every day I have my time where I devote to seeing patients at my full time, dealing with army medical reserve (i.e. completing evaluations for soldiers). Making time for my personal, professional goals (working on opening my agency in August), (researching grants), (working on research proposals) and devoting some time to my relationship because I desire to have a partner to go through the good and bad on this journey we call life.

Therapist Corner:

I am currently documenting what I spend my time on with journaling or writing down things on my calendar. Doing this straightforward task will significantly increase your awareness of how you spend your time. Getting into the habit of having a weekly and monthly reflection will greatly help you spend your time on the right things. Start doing it and you’ll never regret it. I want you to start becoming aware of how you spend your time, and what consumes your time. Having this knowledge will assist you in making better choices, regardless of who you are and whatever your goals are. The way you spend your time is the way you spend your life. How are you spending your time?

Spending your time on things you value, there are six things you must know:
• How do I currently spend my time?

• What are my goals?

• What skills and other resources do I need to achieve my goals?

• What are the specific activities that I need to make an action plan?

• How am I currently spending my time on a daily basis?

• What are the most valuable things I want to spend my time on today? “Valuable” in this context is defined by your life-direction.

Smiling through all four seasons 

I have been gone for a minute now I’m back at the jump off (Jump off)….I have been focusing on a few projects. On a regular basis, I attempt to practice what I preach on a daily basis because I do not want to seem hypocritical, or not trying to live a healthy life. One of the things I have struggled with in past relationships with family, friends, and intimate partners is dimming my light and trying to motivate, inspire, encourage, and help with the planning of their career, relationships, or self-worth. I am guilty of compromising my essence in my relationship, and I can realize that I was betraying myself. In my relationship, I found myself not discussing some of my accomplishments or achievements because I was focused on making sure my partner was successful in all endeavors. After years of learning, I have realized that when you compromise self, a part of you dies in the process. It is a feeling of unhappiness that takes place because you start to become unfulfilled. As a therapist or a helper, I think people forget that sometimes the person who attempts to help everyone needs some assistance with things on this journey we call life.

If you are reading this and thinking is the therapist trying to tell me that I am in a relationship or friends with someone, who does not love me? Keep this in mind even if the person likes or loves you, but you are continuing to put their needs, and wants ahead of yours then you are not free, and it will not be fulfilling in the long run. Personally, I had to take a step back and realize that I was compromising Michael and my God given talents to help individuals with their desires, wishes, goals, and dreams. As a result in the past, I took several quarters to sit out of school because I needed to focus on my relationship or their goals. I decided not to accept several opportunities because I thought it wasn’t the best thing at that time. Some situations I had to take time away from school or my personal goals because financially I had to concentrate on other things for others.

Real freedom is to love and accept you, talents, skills, and personality. The freedom to love self and being able to accept yourself even if there are moments you find it difficult to love and accept yourself. As you learn to love and accept even your non-acceptance, a profound peace will begin to resonate within you. As you start to like who you are, you will start to acknowledge and nourish the light within you. The light inside you then grows stronger, and in these moments you realize the potential you have.

I have learned that there is nothing humble about playing small in personal or professional relationships . When you know who you are, you are aware that what is magnificent and shines is not “you” in the egoist sense, but the essence of your being. This essence is the same essence inside us all. My mother would recite to me all the time Deuteronomy 28:13 13-The LORD will make you the head, not the tail. If you pay attention to the commands of the LORD your God that I give you this day and carefully follow them, you will always be at the top, never at the bottom. Yes, placing yourself in the world to try various opportunities, and share your gifts can be a vulnerable and a scary thing. You will have thoughts “Will I be great,” Will I be successful,” or “Will they embrace who I am.” I have had all of those thoughts and much more but I did not allow those thoughts to stop me from applying to present at local, regional, national, or international conferences to be a presenter.  It is easier just to play it small and hide behind things because when we are visible, we subject ourselves to criticism and scrutiny. So many of us hide behind our comfort zones and play it safe. Instead of sending the DM and see where things will go with someone you find to be attractive. Don’t be afraid to approach someone because they are attractive because you have a lot to offer someone as well. Do not hesitate to send the DM because you are comfortable with going home to an empty home. We have to allow our magnitude of our visions to be bigger than our fears.

On this journey I am noticing as I step into my greatness and share my God-given talents with the world, people will have all sorts of opinions about you. People will try to come with things to destroy your happiness. Everyone is entitled to their views is something I am learning and not take everything personally. It is their opinion and how they perceive me tends to reveal more about them than about me because they do not know me from a can of paint. Again, playing small or diminishing your light doesn’t serve anyone any purpose. In fact, when you let your light shine, it inspires, encourages, and motivates those around you of the very same light that they possess inside of them. Each person has an individual light within them. It is not the same light as mine because what God has for is for me. I have noticed my friends, and family becomes inspired to live out their dreams or step out on faith and open their own business, purchase their first rental property, or start dating someone. Even in your personal, intimate relationships they will become inspired by your example and use your model to step up their own game. There will be some people who will be jealous as it’s a reminder of where they aren’t living out their potential greatness. This has the potential to be very frustrating when dealing with friends, family, and lovers but remember you are only showing them their possible potential and they may never reach that level of potential that you see in them. It’s not selfish to let your light shine. In fact, it’s selfish NOT to let your light shine. The world misses out on so many fantastic gifts when you hold back sharing your gifts. There is no perfect time to start allowing yourself to be great. It’s time to stop hiding and shine your light and investing in yourself. If you wait until you are ready, you will be waiting the rest of your life. Sometimes in life, you need to put yourself. First, you need to think about what’s best for you and pursue it. 
Money don’t make me happy (Make me happy)
And a fella can’t make me fancy (Make me fancy)
We smiling’ for a whole nother reason (Whole nother reason)
It’s all smiling through all four seasons

Stepping out on faith

Today marked four years when I decided to step out on faith and relocate to the east coast. One quote comes to mind from Pope Benedict XVI: “The world promises you comfort, but you were not made for comfort. You were made for greatness.” The movers packed up my apartment, and I moved to the DMV. Jesse and I drove from Wichita, Kansas to Silver Spring, Maryland & Calesha flew in to help me get organized in my new space.

Faith and life go hand in hand; it is impossible to live life to the fullest without faith because faith gives life purpose. Life begins outside of your comfort zone.  

Therapist Corner: It is important to remain patient and trust your journey. Life will unfold exactly as it should be revealing. The best thing we can do is trust that this is all working out(it always is even if we can’t see it yet) and continue to grow and evolve.

My Tribe 

 As I am sitting at my desk making a list of people that I am going to invite to my upcoming dinner party I’m thinking about how I am grateful to have a great tribe of friends and family members who support me unconditionally. My tribe consists of individuals who have remained consistent, genuine, and loyal. 

The five closest people in our lives are a direct reflection of our values and integrity. They are the mirror of our choices. Everyone we include in our lives is a part of our tribe, and that tribe is greater than we can truly know. They can be the weight that has us playing small or the springboard to our evolution. Remember relationships are about giving and taking things.

 Does your tribe reflect your values and integrity?

It is important to realize that we are not backup plans or spare tires for anyone. We need to be able to tell people “Don’t pick me because the other person is busy or not responding to your text messages. Don’t pick me because you did not have any other choices. You don’t settle for me, and I do not settle for you. We are just on the edge of being out of each other’s leagues.” Then at some point, we need to realize that sometimes we have known people for a long time but are on two different roads that may never run tandem but will merge with each other throughout life. Sometimes we give up too soon on something (or someone) that may have been meant to have more than a seasonal purpose. We cling to those who were only supposed to have a small role in our lives.

Sometimes though it takes experiencing hurt, anger, frustration, sadness, and brokenness to help us gain a greater appreciation of what you let go of. The cliché grass isn’t always greener on the other side can often be accurate, so if you know you have something or someone of value or who have untapped potential, it may be more beneficial to hold on to it than to chase something new. Sometimes we wonder how we got so lucky and what else we can do to design and build a greater partnership, which pushes each other to achieve anything and everything. 

My funny valentine

Talking with my friends this week who are not happy about being single for Valentines this year I decided to write a note about love. The big question that everyone should ask themselves this Valentines: “Am I ready for love?” I have been on both ends of the spectrum when it comes to this question. I have been in love before, and I have searched for love. Something that I have come to realize through education and experience is a good relationship, is not a game or a fairytale; it is about experiencing love between two people.
 The ability to love someone is one of the greatest joys we can ever experience; but at the same time, it can hurt. Loving someone means you are willing to experience the good and the bad. Someone may pose the question, “when does it hurt?” It can hurt when the other person does something very detrimental to you, and it hurts when you see that person enduring pain and sadness.
Loving someone takes a lot of effort. It is imperative to listen to each other unless you are dating a psychic (lol). Respect your partner for who they are and not what you want them to be. True love sees and accepts a person for who they are. It is also true love that makes change for the better.
Every day, everywhere, people fall in love but just how many of these relationships are self-sacrificing love, and not just relationships which are formed only for the intense feeling of falling in love? I know hundreds of friends who say “I love you” without it having actual meaning. There is a big difference between being in love with someone and loving someone. If a person says, they are in love with you, which means they liked you for who you are now and he/she fell in love with the present you. But if a person says “I love you,” they mean that they love you unconditionally for who you are now, who you were in the past and who you might be in the future. When they say they love you and mean it, you have to ask yourself ” if you love him/her too or if you’re in love with the idea of being in love.” It is very hard to see the difference through logical thinking.
The hardest arithmetic to master is that which enables us to count our blessings. Do not be a slave to the unavailable. Allow yourself the opportunity to love and be loved! The most significant relationship you have is your relationship with yourself. While we learn to accept others, we also need to get to love and accept ourselves. The truth is that you can’t give something that you do not possess within yourself.
I am always reminding myself I am mine before I am ever anyone else’s. Self-Love doesn’t just go with the flow, choose the flow you go with. Don’t outsource your self love definition. Treat problems like old pictures: reframe them. Do not forget the lesson from your history. Let your heart guide you in your present & future situations!

December 2016……Finale……..4th quarter 

As a therapist, I hear a variety of everything from individuals. My friends and family consult with me about everything. This year I have heard several times about people are ready for this year to end. Recently, someone told me they regret a lot of the decisions they made. Personally, 2016 started out a little rocky, but after MLK weekend I evaluated a few things and decided I did not want to deal with several things, and I didn’t want to feel like that anymore, so I made some personal changes. For the first time in a long time, I woke up to choices and patterns that led me down a road of destruction. At that moment I noticed that I should have ended some things a long time ago. I had a choice to feel guilty, or live with regrets, or find some compassion for the choices I made. The pain and rejection were information that I needed to evolve into the next chapter of my life. The thing about a lesson is once you learn them; you don’t have to revisit them again. Everything happens for a reason. Don’t stress the could haves.

I remember having a conversation with my coworker/friend, and she was explaining to me that 2016 was her year of “Yes.” I encouraged her to step out on faith and trust the process, and explore opportunities. During that conversation, I told my coworker that this would be my year of “NO.” 2016 was a year of me learning that to whom much is given…….saying “NO” may be required. I made a decision to focus on building myself, and if it wasn’t about advancing or elevating me personally or professionally then, the answer was “NO.” I was only interested in building myself emotionally, spiritually, financially, and mentally.
The remainder of 2016 has been an excellent chapter on my journey on this thing we call life. I was able to regain my focus and close out one of the most challenging hurdles in my life since boot camp, and I am counting down the days to graduation. I don’t have regrets about sacrificing and taking breaks from school to help someone. I can learn from the mistakes, and keep it moving. 

Career wise I have been blessed with several opportunities to work with PESI as a consultant and travel to new cities meeting new people. Another opportunity I was blessed to receive a call from someone who attended one of my workshops and extended the offer for me to teach at The Catholic University Master of Social Work Program. Receiving the request to teach has been a blessing because it reminded me how much I missed and loved teaching about the knowledge that I have learned over the years with my future colleagues. My real estate business has been doing very well, and I was able to assist with several refinance opportunities. Last but not least, I met someone that I wasn’t expecting to meet, but now I can’t imagine my life without them. As I am closing out 2016, I still have a few strained relationships that I am not 100% happy about, but it takes two people to make a relationship work. I am still praying about each of those situations, but I refuse to stress over spilled milk.

Therapist Advice:
You can’t expect for things to be perfect every day. You will make mistakes when it comes to love, life, career, and personal relationships. There will be moments when you will be the best and worst version of yourself. Take accountability, and commit yourself to living at your highest level of knowledge. 

You will have moments on your personal journey where you will struggle, but remember you are human. Life is about making the mistakes, but learning how to become a better person. Be gentle with yourself, and remain committed to growing and learning from the mistakes of 2016 so you can continue to offer compassion for all of the new lessons that will come your way. 

Life is what you make of it and if you choose to find the silver lining in situations; your struggles suddenly become your triumphs. We are in December make the last chapter of 2016 a great one.

World AIDS Day 

World AIDS Day is held on the 1st December each year and is an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, show their support for people living with HIV and to commemorate people who have died. World AIDS Day was the first ever global health day, held for the first time in 1988.
Too many people are thinking the grass is greener on the other side of the fence, when they need just to water the grass they are standing on and know their status. To date, more than 30 million people have died from AIDS, and some 34 million are currently infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. 1 in 5 people with HIV doesn’t know they have it. Get tested & know your status! #WorldAIDSDay
Currently, only 30% of Americans who are infected are virologically suppressed. Identifying HIV-positive persons and improving the administration of care will increase the number of persons retained in care. Someday soon, we may be able to welcome a new generation into an AIDS-free world.
WHAT CAN I DO TO HELP?
Make a goal to educate everyone on the importance of getting tested for HIV.
 Educate your family, friends, students, children, and patients and reduce stigma. Stigma and discrimination prevent people from getting tested and receiving treatment. Educate individuals about the disease, risk factors, and available treatments, and explain what it means to be infected.

 Keep negatives negative. Even after someone has tested negative for HIV, ensure that they understand how to maintain a healthy, low-risk lifestyle.

WHERE CAN I LEARN MORE?
To find out more about HIV/AIDS, visit https://www.apa.org/pi/aids/resources/exchange/2012/04/hope-program.aspx

If you are need of HIV and mental health training to your staff (social workers, psychiatrists, medical doctors, nurses, school counselors), and students, please contact Michael D. Gatson, (318) 663-1068 (C), or (240) 706-7187 (H)