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!
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.
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 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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
Recently I celebrated a birthday with someone and they are having a difficult time with getting older. I have come to a place where I am comfortable with getting older, as each decade of life brings its own challenges, joys, sorrows, and teachings. Yes, there are a few things I wanted by a certain age, and I think that is the overachiever within myself. I am learning that it’s not about my time, but in God’s time is the right time. I am learning to trust the lessons of each cycle of my life. I am happy with where I am in life. Each moment is a moment of life, your life and remembers to make each moment count. There is no day but today. What does getting older mean to you?
Live in such a way that if anyone should speak badly of you, no one would believe it.
Last night I had a great time catching up with my friends and can’t wait until they arrive in DC in August. Life is about the people you meet on this journey of life, and the things you create with them. I’m grateful for my experiences, and people I have met on this journey of life. You can’t save time, so it can’t gain interest: So concentrate your interest in the present and savor every moment.