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!
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)
It is a trend people use on social media. On Tuesday people post “-transformational” photos. Today I decided to support a transformation of my personal fitness achievements. Prior to starting my weight-loss journey, I had no idea what proper portions were coming from Louisiana. Working with the veterans at the hospital I made a decision to join the military. I never had weight issues growing up because I was extremely thin. Dealing with daily stressors of life caused me to gain more weight over the years. My motivation to start working out was my fear of not passing the Army Physical Fitness Test.
I started walking/running with my friend about two or three times per week and lifting twice a week on top of that. I cut way back on fried food, dairy and red meat and added in lots of fruits, veggies and lean protein. Through portion control and exercise, I slowly lost 30 pounds over the course of about 12 months. After dealing with a few stressors while in Kansas working out has become my outlet to relieve stress. I am not a fan of weighing myself. I judge my weight loss on how my clothes fit. I still eat the same foods as before, but within moderation.
Remember that you don’t have to be perfect to lose weight. When we expect perfection is when we set ourselves up for failure. When you allow yourself to be imperfect, you will find it easier to make the best choices.
Identify stress-producing circumstances. Learn your body’s responses to stressful situations. Use relaxation cues to overcome stress responses. Generalize these relation clues to the conditions that tend to cause stress. It is important to learn how to control your emotions. Learn what situations cause you to lose control or make you angry. Monitor your feelings you are having in stressful situations. Find an outlet to reduce your stress such as yoga, journaling, blogging or going to the gym.