family

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

 

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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. 

🎂🍸34…………………the year of NO & growth!

Each year our birthday comes around & we began reminiscing about the past, the ups & down, and relationships that ended and began. This year has been about change, growth, heartbreak, closing and starting new chapters, and discovering what I truly deserve but not knowing or fearful of what the future holds. I will admit it can be scary when you come face to face with our reality that we are in a place; we don’t want to be in anymore. That can be a feeling, a situation but don’t fear them because it is a good space to be in because we are about to make some changes. So, often the next step in our growth is letting go so we can continue to evolve and expand. Friends and family are included in this.

The year has been a transition, but I am thankful for the growth in my career and personal life. Sometimes, you are the one who has to leave situations, feelings, and people behind. When it comes to friends, family, and significant others, sometimes we need to allow them to work on themselves because they won’t do it while you are providing everything for them in their life. It is a weird place praying for someone to change and reach their full potential and grow up, and year after year it’s no change. Maybe it is because they don’t want to make any changes, or they are not ready to admit they are not good at some things, and maybe us leaving is exactly what is needed for them to be in space to grow. When we consistently stay and neglect our happiness, we are enabling their behaviors. They will tell you I will see a therapist and start missing or canceling appointments. The excuses start to become more frequent and no movement from them.

We can’t change people. They have to want to make some change. They have to demonstrate that they are taking the actions that indicate a change. Words do not have value if they are not supported behind actions. Trust me, if people want something or someone bad enough they will make the necessary changes. I know so many individuals who are in love with people and dating them based purely on their potential and not who they are being. They see endless possibilities in the person, and yet, that person has never shown a glimpse or desire to change and grow in that direction. You cannot motivate, and convince anyone to become anything that they are not moving towards. They can talk all about it, but our choices reflect our priorities, so look at what they’re choosing.

Just make sure you are not asking them to be someone else to be with you because that type of request has a short shelf life and eventually the real person will show their face or some people spend their entire life mirroring each other fakeness and becomes very exhausting over time. If we let people sit in the gap of ambivalence, we give our amazingness away to people who will never know our value.

It can be tough to become AWARE when we are in a relationship. We can never limit our growth for someone else. We can invite our family, friends, and significant others to join us on our journey of growth, but it is impossible to sustain a dead space for another in the long term. It will lead to resentment and pain, and we began to shrink ourselves to meet them rather than inviting them to grow into us.

As I continue on my journey to empower and encourage others, I am learning the true meaning of the favor of God. The more you give and strive to help others improve their life, the more your life improves. My life has been enriched with a new love, endless opportunities, adventures, and experiences. Today I am celebrating another year of life and starting a new chapter in my personal memoir but excited about what God has in store for me on my journey and the feeling of accomplishment.

Thank you for all the birthday cards, wishes, gifts, calls, text, emails, and social media post.

HAPPY SOCIAL WORK MONTH

This week I celebrated my 7th anniversary from when I submitted my first research proposal and presented at NASW-LA in Baton Rouge, LA. This week I presented at the NASW-MD Conference on Suicide Among Active Military Personnel and War Veterans. My first time I was introducing the information from my article I published with NASW, and I was very comfortable and not feeling nervous at all. I had an altercation to happen between two of the participants. I feel that I handled the situation very well. During my presentation, I provided a group assignment. One of the participants would play the therapist, and the other member would be the patient. While they were working on their task, I met a lovely retired neuropsychologist who greeted and congratulated me on passing my oral defense. We had a pleasant exchange of the work I have been doing with the VA and in the community.

After the group assignment was over, I had everyone provide their feedback. One of the participants was a newly licensed social worker and MSW graduate who expressed being nervous and not confident in the role of a therapist. I provided her with a little feedback. I explained it is important to speak with authority and conviction when you are speaking to people. As a therapist, it is important to know when to be silent. There is a great wisdom and illumination in both. When you are confused and nervous, ask your heart which is the best approach for that moment and proceeds with confidence. Practice being present with others. Listen, rather than just thinking about what you’re going to say next. People can sense when someone is listening to them. Being grounded and present is a gift to yourself and others.

I finished presenting and met with a few people afterward and exchanged information. The newly licensed social worker came up to me later and had several questions about my journey as a social worker. I explained to her that I have a strong support system and great mentors. She wanted to know how to gain confidence and getting her career started as a social worker. I explained to be generous in the giving of yourself. Even if it’s just for a moment. You could be the person who makes all the difference.

Trust the process of your life. On the journey, there will be some bad things happen along the way but having faith that something good will always come out of the situation. It may take a while to see the blessing, but eventually, you will. If I appear to be strong, it is because I have been weak before. If it seems as I am fearless when I am answering questions from participants it’s because I have been afraid in the past. When I am in front of other medical professionals, colleagues, or students, I always take the time to recite “for in him we live, move, and have our being.” I shake out all the fear and nerves that I am currently experiencing, and take a few deep breaths, and remember who is in control, and I began to feel myself returning to my center.

Life is a journey, and as we will all travel along, and we will run into several challenges along the way. When you run into those challenges along the way, it is important to have a strong support system, and mentors to help provide support, encouragement, inspiration, and insight. It will come a time you don’t have a clue of the destination, but if you trust God, follow the desires of your heart, remain humble, and believe the desires of your heart then each step will lead you. You will begin to realize that the steps you are making in the right direction on your personal journey.

No worries every heartbreak, mistake, or experience will teach you something valuable. It will be your trip that nobody else will travel, and no one can judge. Friends and family will accompany you part of the way, and you’ll walk the rest by yourself, but you will never be alone. You will learn that people will want you to do good but never better than them.

Trust the process. Act as if you already the person you dream of becoming courageous, self-expressed, and compassionate. When you get anxious, nervous, or fearful, ask yourself, “How would the ‘I’ whom I want to become an act in this situation?” Then do it. You will be amazed how much you already are the person who you desire to be. As I continue my professional journey, I am learning that real success comes in small portions day by day.

May the work I’ve done speak for me: 

  

There comes a time in every adult’s life where they must be honest and in tune with their true feelings. A couple of weekends ago I was having a pity party for me being in class on Saturday, and Sunday taking a CBT certification course. Next weekend I will be working on speaking engagements and the weather is getting warmer, and everyone is enjoying, and I will be working. I started thinking when will I get the chance to enjoy my weekends and after work, and sit down and enjoy the fruits of my labor. During this same class, I was texting with one of my friends, and he asked me the question are you happy? You are always working. I had to take a few seconds to think about his question before answering. I replied to him “are you asking me if I am happy because I have a lot of things I am currently working on at the moment.” I explained to him that my goal in life is to make sure the work I have done speaks for who I am as a person. When I leave this earth, I want to ensure I used my entire God given talents.

After really thinking about his question I realized that I am taking this course because more certifications, equals more opportunity. Growing up my parents instilled in me the importance of working and having multiple strings of income or as my dad would say “multiple hustles.” Then I also realized I am enjoying the fruits of my labor. I have a home I love, and the potential to take care of all of my needs, and the majority of my wants. The horizons are high, and I will be able to enjoy other things even more once I set myself up for the future, but fruits are currently being enjoyed. Celebrating yourself is important!!! Don’t limit your radiant self-expression. You encourage others to shine brightly through your examples. There will be haters and people telling you can’t accomplish things. My favorite one was when people told me I would never pass through army boot camp. I am going on four years in the Army as an officer. I have learned over

the years I can’t share my joy with everyone but only with people whom I know will celebrate with me. Then there are times when I am working silently and systematically on things, and I share my joy with God by being grateful for happiness!

To have success, we have to be willing to sacrifice late nights, early mornings, and weekends. As we mature and we tend to have more associates, and our circle of friends becomes smaller.

Recently my coworker encouraged me to apply to be a speaker for a company. I thought about it for a while, and then I started to doubt myself. Having thoughts, I have not been in the field long enough to compete on the same level as the other presenters. I had to remember why I started this journey. I started presenting seven years ago because I started complaining about hearing the same boring styles of presentations, and I wanted to see and hear something different. I submitted my proposal several places and presented for no charge for several years before I started receiving compensation. Then I began to think about what my support system would tell me in times like this.

• God did not give you the spirit of fear

• I can do all things through Jesus Christ who strengthens me

• Stay humble but always ask God for your wisdom

• Always remember God placed you in that position so that you can deposit seeds into others.

I know that if I’m operating at my full potential, there is no one better than me. I’m the expert on my research. When you trust your skills fully then no one will be able to intimidate you. I decided to send my information and apply for the position. A week later I received an email about setting up a phone interview to discuss my research proposal I recently submitted. The phone interview went well, and they want me to proceed with the hiring process.

  

Michael’s Advice:

Utilizing your entire God given talents is necessary. I have several projects that I am currently working on at the moment. Don’t let any of your skills, goals, or dreams go to waste. It is important to put everything that was placed inside of you back into the universe. Whatever it is you are scared to try: writing your first book, becoming a makeup artist, getting your masters, or Ph.D., the opening of your private practice, opening a boutique, starting your own business. Your greatness could be wrapped inside. Bloom where you are planted and stop waiting for the right time. There is always someone who will be watching how seeds grow into beautiful flowers. In reality, whatever skills, or goals that have been planted inside of you was not for you, but for someone else. A few people are taking notes, copying, and looking up to you but will never tell you. You have an audience! Your story is the key that unlocks someone else’s prison. Share your testimony with someone. You will never know the power you possess until you release it into the universe. How we spend our time determines if we are moving toward or away from our goals. You might have an 8-4:30 job, but you can still allocate time towards your goals, dreams, and talents.

 Stop holding onto people that have you on hold…..

Blogging allows me the opportunity to relax and take a break from my normal routine. It is very stress relieving when I’m able to write about my journey. The beautiful thing about reflecting is you have time to evaluate yourself and relationships. When I get stuck in a 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.

Recently, I started to reflect on a few relationships that mean a lot to me. I can remember at one point I was really close to certain individuals, and I am not sure what caused the division. One relationship, in particular, I have been praying about for some time. After several years, I decided to express my feelings about a multitude of things I have been feeling over the years. I wanted to reach out to mend things. After discussing things in great detail, we were able to apologize and agree to work on our relationship going forward. Self-Evaluation is important because we need to evaluate ourselves and see what are you bringing to the relationship and if you can make some improvements.

I’ve made a decision that I am not going to continue to carry the weight of relationships that are not balanced. 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 mending. 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 evolve and grow. I enjoy helping and caring for others and making sure I reach out by visiting, texting, calling, and hosting events to foster relationships, and some people only want to receive. Then you have people who have a thousand excuses why they are not providing anything in the relationship. 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.

What about your friends?

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Two years ago I stretched across my hotel bed and journaled some of my feelings, and the words are still resonating with me today. After a long day of presenting, I came back to my room and began reflecting on the past month. This month I had many things going on, and it turned out to be very successful regarding my career, but I noticed that my friend list was on a decline. Blogging has become a stress relief for me in the midst of my crazy life. So when I initially started journaling about two weeks ago, I was very frustrated and aggravated about a few things. Two weeks ago I presented two days in Baton Rouge, and I received a text message asking me did I see someone at the conference. I replied back I wasn’t aware that they were even in town. I admit that I was a little-taken aback. Personally, if I decide not to attend my “friends” presentation, I will make sure I speak and hopefully to catch up with you afterwards if our schedule permits. Then I started to think about a few things that transpired over the past two weeks.

Before we go any further, let’s talk about friends. Last week I was told, “I do not think you have been a good friend.” Then I was told by another person “you are amazing. You’re a go-getter, but you intimidate people and view you as a threat because you’re the life of the show.” What is friendship? 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 “friend” may be utilized 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. And this list goes on again and again, but these are the people that we call friends. I started thinking about TLC lyrics “What about your friends; Will they stand their ground; Will they let you down again; Will they ever be around or will they turn their backs on you.” A real friend not only matches your spirit in excitement but also uplifts your spirits during the good and the bad times. True friends have the ability to show you more than you can see.

Today how many of us have shoulders to lean on outside our immediate family?

I have some friends I talk with on a regular basis and have some we may not talk every day, but when we catch up, we do not miss a beat. Recently I was asked why I have stopped talking to certain people over the years. I explained that friendships are another form of a relationship, and it takes two people. One person cannot carry the weight of the relationship. Sometimes the relationship diminishes in closeness or end for a variety of reason, outgrowing people based on our values — goals, changing interest, and relocation without sufficient effort to keep in touch — or unresolved conflicts and betrayal. I noticed once I stopped sending out daily motivations and created my blog that I lost contact with many people.

I found myself confused because things are going well in my career and personal life. I reached out to my support system seeking some guidance and wisdom. My grandmother reminded me of a time when I was growing up. She said, “Do you remember when we would be in church, and I would put my last in the collection plate, and you would ask me granny why are you giving away all of your money, and you are broke? Or when we would go out for lunch, and she would leave a tip, and I was confused about her tipping all the money she had. She reminded me of what she told me “DeAngelo because I am paying it forward for you, my children, and my great-grandchildren. Granny explained to me that the blessings I am receiving were gifts that were paid for a long time ago by so many people who loved and cared for me. She explained that, in this life, it is about planting seeds for your successors. Granny said “Deangelo people will be intimidated because they do not have a support system or nobody planted seeds for them. God has blessed you with wisdom and understanding. Never forget him or the people who planted seeds for you.”

I understand that I am flawed and far from perfect, but my heart is pure and genuine. Yes, I can be stubborn and rigid when it comes to ideas that I strongly believe in. I am very loyal, supportive, and devoted friend. My days are over breaking my neck for family and friends who do not support me. I’ve been burned too many times, and that ship has sailed from the port of no return. I’ve had to understand that some people will not show support until you have made it. When you learn your worth is when you stop giving people discounts. As I welcome spring, I am also starting my spring cleaning and close a few chapters and realizing everyone is not meant to make it to the end.

Therapist Corner: Spring Cleaning

It is officially spring, and it’s time for some spring cleaning of the clutter in our relationships. The clutter is the relationships that are messing up your focus and life. This relationship can be with friends, family, co-workers, lover or an ex-lover. The first loves that you broke up with, the one you set your goals and lowered for are not your priority. You are neglecting yourself while trying to force yourself into a nightmare. Live stress-free and enjoy what you have.

Set your boundaries. Walk away from the negative people you encounter. End your toxic relationships (including with family). It begins with a vision to recognize when a job, a life stage, or a relationship is over and let it go. It may be difficult at first, but as you move away from negative people, you’ll become more confident and will attract positive people into your life. It means leaving what’s over without denying its validity or its past importance in our lives. It’s a sign that you’re no longer that person you were, it’s time to change into who you are. You want to find individuals who accept you for who you are, but are willing to challenge you, in a positive and constructive manner.

 

Happy Social Work Month

On the plane en route to the conference this year, I thought this will be might be my last year presenting at the NASW-LA conference. I also was considering not renewing my contract with Continuing Education as a presenter. As I wrap up this week, I am deeply humbled and grateful from all the love I received during the breaks and after my presentations this week. One of my practicum supervisors from Overton Brooks VA Medical Center attended my workshop on Wednesday and Thursday. She expressed that she was extremely proud of me and my professional growth in the field. Meeting the students and reminded me of why I am doing this. It was a great feeling to receive positive feedback and students requesting to contact me about being their mentor.

I am grateful for my family (Mom, Cynthia, Audria, Cyrille, Christopher, Rhani, Danisha, Meghan, & Carey) that love and supports me no matter what. It’s a great feeling to look in the crowd and see your mother smiling in excitement. This week reminded me of why I became a social worker. As I continue my professional journey, I am learning that real success comes in small portions day by day.

Do you remember why you chose a certain profession?

I am a social worker because I have always been a proponent for helping others in any manner that I can. In 2005, I began my journey to become a social worker because of my desire to positively affect the lives of others ethically, legally, and morally. For me, no day is ever the same in the life of a social worker, but I enjoy the daily challenges and the environment to use my analytical skills on a consistent basis. I appreciate this profession as it allows reaching those individuals who are in need of guidance and encouragement in their lives.

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02-05-1993

We alternately love them and hate them, but one thing’s for sure-what would we do without them? Our companions for life, our competitors, our confidantes, our rivals, our comrades-in-arms against the world-what would we do without them? No other bond in the world can beat siblings at sharing such a unique and complex love-hate relationship! I have so many memories over the past years from combing your hair, getting you ready for church, and school. I had the opportunity to witness your senior prom, high school graduation, college to watching you blossom into a beautiful and independent young woman. You put a smile on everybody’s face. You are so genuine, funny, loyal, supportive, thoughtful, and caring. With every year I am more and more grateful for our bond. So today I want to wish my baby sister/bestie a happy 21st birthday.

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