My Testimony To Love | H.E.R., Part III

I thought I'd never love again
I thought my life was over and
I didn't want to face nor even see another day
Suddenly from no where, baby you appeared
You dried my tears, you cared for me
Baby your love for me, truly rescued me
It's becuase of you, I was able to
Fall in love again, you give me
Someone to love.
- Jon B.

I actually wrote this on December 26th, 2013. I decided to put it out now just because I wanted to, plus it's a daily reminder of what love feels like. I hope you enjoy. 

Nowhere, But Yet, Everywhere.

It's time to begin, isn't it?
I get a little bit bigger, but then I'll admit,
I'm just the same as I was.
Don't you understand,
That I'm never changing who I am.
- Imagine Dragons

When it comes to blogging I consider one person in the same lane, on the same level as I am, in terms of thinking & content. And that would be Devri Velazquez. Majority of her content usually hits some kind point in my mind that triggers a very deep thought process. In case you didn't know, anything that triggers a very deep thought process is a great thing. Her blog post "belonging far away from here" did just that. I implore you to go read it before you continue on reading this blog so you'll have a better understanding of this one.

Its ok, I'll wait.

You're back? Ok cool, let's finish.

Every single person on this planet has a hole in their heart that cannot be filled. It's a yearning, a burning desire, a continuous desire to chase something til you feel the sense of euphoria of completing it. It's what drives us, it's apart of what makes us human. The will to do what we have to do to fill that hole, whether good or bad, is a very powerful feeling. Now some people eventually fill that hole and become completely satisfied in life. That point comes in old age, a traumatic experience, or they simply just get lucky enough to obtain it. Others spend a lifetime looking for fortunes, spending fortunes, studying something, looking for answers or they simply just spend a lifetime wishing they had something in their possession that they don't.

After reading "belonging far away from here" I realized that I have a desire to constantly be on the move, traveling, experiencing different things, people, cultures, you know, Wanderlust. Those questions she posed triggered something in my mind that made me realize that what I want to try to fill that hole with is experiencing the world as seen through so many pictures that I see everyday. There are so many things in this world that is awesome if you give it a chance to be. Yea I want to see The Coliseum in Rome, the crystal blue oceans on the Dominican Republic, snow falling on the Eiffel Tower & the great pyramids of Egypt. There are just so many other places that need to be seen. One thing she did ask that really caught my attention was:

"Will you learn to realize that they aren’t your makers and their opinion doesn’t matter? Or will you choose to ignore that notion and continue with your everyday life suffering in your own physical body from the mental torment you give yourself?"

That quote made me realize a lot, but the main thing being how held back people are within their own mind, hindering their willingness to experience other cultures. I always get asked the "why would you" and the "what for" from people who want to spend their time doing the same thing, with the same the same people, in the same places. And that is completely fine, for them. I use to become nervous and overwhelmed from experiencing new cities until I made a trip to Washington, D.C. last year by myself & saw it wasn't as bad as I was making it out to be. All in all I think it's a great & exciting thing to know what drives a person to fill that hole in their heart. Knowing or having a specific goal is what drives the great ones, the ones who know what they want and they go after it by any and every means available to them. Take the time to sit back and analyze your life, discover what you want & make the  adjustments to go after it. Don't waste years of your life doing and being someone that everyone wants you to be. Don't be afraid to take risks & chances, after all, you only have one life to live. Might as well live it the way you want.

I always found it funny when people tell me that I deserve to be happy. I found it funny for reasons being that no one on this earth deserves anything really. Everyone has to work hard for the opportunity to do anything in life. So with that thought process, I always felt the need to work extra hard to be happy. I never fully realized how flawed that way of thinking was. No one should have to sit and fight to be happy; no one should have to sit and worry on a daily basis about most things, having to remind themselves to take time to do something that makes them happy. No one should have to explain themselves to people close to them why doing certain things makes them happy. The explanation and the effort should never be in question, ever. I didn't realize such things before going into therapy. I didn't realize how much effort I was exerting in recent years to accommodate for other people's lifestyle. I thought to myself, "hey these are my friends & I should take their feelings into consideration", that was all wrong according to my real friends.

I'm typically not a person who does what other people want me to do; I actually do what I want to do quite often, even if that means me doing things alone. I use to think that my "get up and get things done now" attitude was the wrong thing, when in fact, that's apart of whom I am. I keep things in order in my home and personal life, and then when it's time to get up and get things done, I can efficiently and quickly get them done. I guess that's why so many of my friends ask me to make all the decisions in terms of what we're going to do, where we're going to do it, and when we need to go do it. Slowing down to other people's speed and waiting for them isn't my deal. I'm the move maker and the way creator. I'm the person that just up's and do things whenever I feel like doing it, and that's what makes me happy, that's what makes me an awesome person in the eyes of my friends.

So at the end of the day, find what makes YOU happy, and do just that, because you'll drive yourself up a wall trying to be what everyone else wants you to be.

Therapy Saved My Life ..

You're only given a little spark of madness. 
You mustn't lose it.
- Robin Williams

I had an interesting talk today with someone I consider my elder today. Recently I've come to the realization, with the help of therapy, that I'm not really acting like myself. I mean for the longest people who really know me have said it to me numerous times when I came around to hang out. I never really understood what that meant, because in my mind I just thought I grew out of things, and simply just calmed down. But as I looked deeper within myself the past couple of weeks, I actually see what they are saying. I am a man who prides himself on having a great mental prowess about himself, meaning I understood that 95% of the battle is all in the way we think things are, therefore I was able to will myself through a lot of situations and have an better understanding of things.

I just wanted to state this before I said it, I never down talked the Army in any capacity, I was warned ahead of time the nature of the beast and what I was getting myself into, but I chose that lifestyle because it's something that I wanted to do for personal reasons, so with that said, I have no ill will or malice towards it. But I seriously think that the whole lifestyle you have to live wasn't suited for me, and with me telling myself that I would play the dog and pony show, I never really got my mind out of that fall in line, don't think more than you have to lifestyle. I mean there were flashes in the pan that I had and people were surprised by what I knew, but more times than none I just kept my mouth closed because I didn't want to seem smarter or give the impression that I knew more than those in charge of me. Because let's face it, at the end of the day, people are pretty petty when they see you as a threat, and I was just there til the end of my contract and it was never that serious for me.

But with the fact that there were plenty of situations that made me frustrated and I couldn't do anything about it but ride my contract out, I became stressed and the fact that I worked 24/7 most of the time and never really got to spend time with people that I actually liked and loved I was a little on the depressed side. Especially after going to Iraq, but that's a situation I'd rather never talk about in my life. But when I got out, I realized that there were things that I didn't really enjoy anymore, I kind of just didn't want to be bothered by most, so I became kind of closed off, and to myself. For a good eight months after I got out, I was just doing my own thing. Going to movies, eating at Chic-Fil-A, just walking around stores by myself, I just needed the me time to recollect myself. For the most part I thought I got it together, I thought I had it in check. So I decided to branch out and be social again. I went out a couple times to the club and realized that it's not my scene anymore. I think that I went to the couple a handful times since then and I think it's only when I went to the thirty and up club that I actually enjoyed myself because it was about the music and the people that I was with, even though I'm not 30 lol.

Fast forward through the rest of the year and to April and it was then that I realized that I couldn't do it by myself, I just couldn't. I realized that mental prowess that I once had, was all but gone, and that in order to get it back, I needed help to get back to that level. I will say that I thank my ex for talking about the importance of seeking help, especially with me being an African-American male. I just want to say, people who have had bad experiences with therapy should try going back again, because it's like anything in life, if you don't have the right therapist that can make themselves feel relatable to your specific life, then it won't be a great experience. I've been fortunate enough to have two different ones, the first being a graduate student, that really related to who I am as a person. It also helped that they were African-American women. But the latter of whom I'm seeing now is quite possibly the perfect fit. She's unconventional, uses crass language, and genuinely cares about her patients. I have to say she's the most wittiest person I know, and she's constantly challenging me to be a better man, a better human being.

I was looking for a Robin Williams picture to go along with the quote above and I actually saw this gif and thought it fit perfectly with the realization that I came to when I was in therapy. When my close friends tell me that I've changed, I automatically realized that the main thing they are referring to is my confidence. I realized at a young age that I could do anything I wanted to in the world. I knew it didn't matter how smart you had to be, how tall you had to be, or how many people you had to know, I just knew I could do it. That's why a lot of my close friendships have stood the test of time, because I was confident in them. I was confident in myself enough to lead most situations and give great advice. I don't give advice based off of what I think I knew, but off the situations that have occurred to me or other people, basically I learned and adapted. And my therapist explain those are the kind of people that other people follow, those are the kind of people that people want to see in front of them in pressure situations. To this day it still amazes me that one of my former coworkers in the Army looked me in the face and said, "if I had to go into a combat situation, I would follow your lead 10 times out of 10 because I know you'll have my best interest at heart before your own". Things like that genuinely surprise me because I don't act on doing things because they're for my own gain, I just do it because it's, right.

And that's part of the conversation that I had with my elder today, he reminded me that back in the day, no man was perfect by any long shot, we all had our demons. Sure you have those  guys that made far less mistakes than everyone else because they learned from other people's troubles. But at the end of the day, you put on one pants leg just like I do, so there's nothing that you can do or I can do better than anyone else, it's just how much thought someone is willing to put into it. He said that one of the mistakes that people make nowadays because of the times is that everyone thinks that they have to have their life in a certain order or level, or that they will one day have it together. He said that's like trying to make the perfect circle, yea you may get there 80% of the way or even 99%, but you'll never be 100%, because life isn't about having 100%, it's about being 99% and appreciating that imperfect 1% for making you have the insight to appreciate that 99% a little more.

I'm going to get into that conversation with my elder in a later blog, but after having that talk, I appreciate my therapist that much more. She didn't sit me down on the couch and let me talk all my problems out and then gave me a cookie and said "awe it will be alright, here's how to make everything better". My therapist literally ripped me apart. She dissected all of my actions, my history and shit just critiqued me like no other. She literally showed me every single thing that I've done wrong in my life. At one point I was really considering not going back. I was open, I told her all of my fears, concerns and worries, and she just destroyed me. I was actually in my feelings after every session for two months, for two months I came home, turned on slow jams while I was taking a shower, sang my heart out to the point of tears. I mean if you look on my iTunes, Please Don't Go, Someone To Love, Wish U Were Here & Just Give Me A Reason are all my top songs played. But something in me told me to keep going, keep going back and listen to what she had to say.

Then she tore me apart some more, until last week. Last week was the day she sat me down, and said to me, "For weeks you've been coming, for weeks I've been giving you hell and I didn't let up on you one bit. You kept coming back time and time again because you wanted to be a better person, you didn't see it that way, but I did. With most of my patients they need some sort of direction, they need to be led somewhere, not you. You wanted to know how to fix yourself so you can be better son, brother, uncle, friend, boyfriend, one day a better husband and father. That to me is the easiest person to help get back on their feet  because you know what life is about, you've just lost your way and need help back on the path". Robin Williams once said:

"I used to think that the worst thing in life was to end up alone. It's not. The worst thing in life is to end up with people who make you feel alone." - Robin Williams

To be honest, I felt that way for the last four years and I didn't realize it til I sat and talked to someone who broke it down and make me realize how faulty my mentality was. It wasn't til I lost someone, who I for the first time in my life cared for more than myself, that I realized that I needed help being me again, and it has paid off tremendously. The returns on how better I'm feeling about myself now is feeling great. I'm not there fully and I haven't quit therapy, but everyday is better than the day before, and I'm slowly regaining who I was when I was legit happy and didn't worry about much. All of this thanks to my ex who pushed therapy, my therapist who pushed me and most importantly God who continues to push me towards the man who he wants me to be.

Side note before I go, I realize that my blogs are getting longer in terms of writing, I know this and I'm glad because I'm able to go into more detail about things that I normally wouldn't write about, but I realized that someone out there might click on my link and see that there's someone going through the same thing or worse than them and that there is hope for them to turn it around in their own personal life. I'll admit being open like this is new for me, I also feel like bloggers have to be completely immersed with their writing to gain those special connections between them and the readers, and that's all I'm trying to do. Until next time.

"What's right is what's left if you do everything else wrong." - Robin Williams

African King, African Queen

Recently I've come to the conclusion that as an African-American male, within reasonable sound mind and own thinking, it's my duty and responsibility to love my African-American Queens. In a country, where a system is in place to divide and cause tension within our own race, a system that our ancestors wanted no parts of , it's my job to uplift her in every way I can possibly do that's constructive to growth and advancement of our people, more importantly, our family.

Couple of Date Ideas, Part 3 | Fall Edition

Even though September 23rd marks the first day of Autumn, you know I had to make this post a couple weeks before hand so you'll be well prepared for all the events coming. You pretty much know the drill by now and I don't have to give you a long winded intro anymore. I will say that you should go back and look at the previous two entries as they might have some date ideas also depending on where you are in the world. Because some people are lucky to have extended periods of warmer weather than the rest of us, but I'm not hating or anything, (looks at you Caribbean followers). But none the less, here it guys, enjoy.

1. Fall Festivals or The County Fair. [Well you already know what time it is, time for deep fried Oreo's, doughnut burgers, funnel cakes, and, oh how could I ever forget, turkey legs. The fair is a time that a lot of people love because it's theme park that most people have to drive hours have fun in. I know a lot of people who go mainly for the food and the couple of rides that they have to offer. Either way, this is a sure fire thing for you to have fun at.]

2. Fall Photo Shoot. [Fall has some pretty awesome backdrops for couples pictures, most people love to take them with the autumn leaves and changing colors. Or if you don't feel like paying a professional, go out and make your props like a pile of leaves, and have your significant other snap the pictures of you doing random stuff. Or you could also set the timer and both join in on the fun. Either way, taking pictures this time of year always results in some great candid's.]

3. Playing with your pumpkin. [You see what I did there, playing with your pumpkin, because your pumpkin also mean, you know what, never mind lol. Try going to the pumpkin patch, picking one out & decorating them. Come home to carve them together and roast the pumpkin seeds. You can also have a little contest among your friends to see who can come up with the best carved one.] You can also try these other things with pumpkins:

  • Make Pumpkin Caramel Apples
  • Make Pumpkin Dip
  • Eat Dinner out of Pumpkin Bread Bowls

4. Go on a hay ride. [I actually grew up in South Carolina and we had these every year around this time, and I actually never went on one. So this is something I'm interested in for the experience. Not too many places that are major cities have these. Typically if you have them, they're in the country or rural area. But if you're lucky enough to have them around, I would advise to take your significant other on one, sort of something you can say you did one day looking back.]

5. Attend a drive-in movie. [I actually had this in my pervious date ideas, and I wanted to post it again because early in the fall season you, like right about now, the nights get real cool, depending on where you are, just down right chilly. But none the less, if you go around before dark or dusk you can catch the last bit of warmish to cool weather before the season is out while checking out some movies that you may have missed in the last couple of weeks.]

6. Halloween, Halloween, HALLOWEEN! [That time of the year when people get excited to be someone for the night and do cool things. There are tons of things to do during Halloween, whether it be the Halloween parade, touring the haunted house, going on a haunted hay ride (yes they have those), or if you live in a major city, downtown is the perfect area to see people dressed up at all the local bars. I had fun last year walking around and taking pictures with all the creative people as you can see below.]

7. Host a costume party. [If you are fortunate to have a lot of friends, why not just gather them all up and have a costume party at your place. You could also try to persuade to talk your boss into letting you guys have a party at work after hours. Going as couples dressed a like isn't a bad thing and always can be creative if you actually try to work with each other. Hey who knows, at the end of the night, the costumes can actually be the gift's that keep on giving lol.]

8. Watch scary movies. [On a random night during the week of Halloween, have it where you guys watch some scary movies together. If you're not into scary movies, like me, then you can watch something like Ghostbusters or Harry Potter. Either way, pick one or two movies and just chill out with each other and enjoy it over some popcorn. It was even suggested if you're really about that life, take the laptop to a dark open field or an old abandon house and watch it there. I'm not suggesting either because it doesn't all too safe, but hey, to each their own.

9. Have a thermos picnic. [I saw this online and I was pretty intrigued by it. Taking a blanket outside and cuddling in the backyard while enjoying some hot coco, coffee or even some soup. This is the first I'm actually hearing about it, and it sounds pretty cool. If that is a little too far out there for you, just get a fire pit going, and sit around that, you can even invite friends to join you. This is also a great time to make some s'mores if you're having a fire pit present.]

10. Go to a football game. [College & professional football just started and before you know it, it will be homecoming season for college football, and the some pretty big games for the NFL. Even if you're not into football like that, the atmosphere of the live event will pump you up, as well as all the tailgating. Not a big fan of live experiences? Well don't worry, having some friends over for a viewing party is just as exciting. You can even crank up the grill and have some while watching the game.]

11. Go on a fall foliage drive. [I'm a big fan of the weather and how awesome it can look in pictures. It's always cool to get out and just take a drive around and see how the weather is changing and sometimes depending on where you are, the weather actually brings out the niceness in your area. Fall is the perfect time to see all the different colors of brown, yellow, and green. Might even find some cool areas to take pictures. This would also be a great time to check out the sunrise or sunset, which ever you perfer. November 17th is also the peak time for Leonid Meteor Showers, so you can get to see some cool things if you care to give it a try.]

12. Plan a cuddle date. [There are going to be those chilly days when you get to work and you just don't feel like being there, so the whole entire day drags. This is a good one in a sense that everyone just wants to relax, and what's a better way than having that one to fall asleep with while just relaxing or catching up on a TV show you guys both watch together. Or you could also just cut out all of the lights, turn on some soothing slow jams and light some candles all around, enjoying the dim lit room for two. Put on your most comfortable robe and slippers, and grab your favorite drink.]

13. Make a cozy fort for two. [Well speaking of cuddling, instead of having the conventional area in your bedroom or living room, if you have the space, go in the extra bed room and set it up all nice with the lights and other DIY kind of decorations. I actually included a picture I saw on Tumblr that I thought was pretty cool idea of having something setup.]

14. Go on a bookstore date. [You're going to be cooped up in the house because of the weather on most nights when it gets closer to the end of the season, so why not go on a date to the bookstore. Before you brush me off, hear me out. Reading is definitely fundamental and is making a come back with most young adults, so why not pick out a book that is your favorite or think the other should read. Both are beneficial for the purpose of getting one another a little more.]

15. Date night in the city. [Mentioned on my last installment as well, there are still painting parties, pottery classes, museums, art gallery parties. Just have to look for it, if you're in a major city then you know those events don't stop running because the weather gets a little chilly.]

16. Still time to be adventurous. [Go Horseback Riding, a hot air balloon ride date, zip-lining, Hiking, bike trail, or just take a ride on a rented bicycle built for two. Either way there's still time to do activities outside for a date before it gets too cold. You might have to wear some pants or a nice jacket, but none the less, there's plenty of time to spend outside.]

17. Cooking! [Since you guys are going to spending a little more time in the house in the later part of the season, you two can teach each other how to cook your favorite dish or try something new together. Going to the library or bookstore to pick up a cookbook is a great idea. You could even flip to the food network and see if you find something that peaks your interest. There are plenty of websites dedicated to couples and cooking projects.]

19. Plan a Thanksgiving prep date. [If you guys plan on spending the Thanksgiving holiday with one another, then you could easily have a night where you guys prepare the dish you're going to bring with an open bottle of wine or favorite alcoholic beverage, if you drink that is, and just talk and cook together. Doesn't seem like much, but the time you two spend together doing something like cooking to impress the other's family will be big down the line.]

20. Pay it forward. [This is different kind of date idea that I also saw online, November 13 is World Kindness Day. So on this day you guys can either do something together like volunteer at a soup kitchen or you can each pick out something kind to do for someone else. It can be big as donating money to your favorite charity or it could be something as small as giving your college aged family member money for something they want. Either way, think outside the box for a date, and take some time to do something for someone else, together.]

Well there you have it, some cool date ideas for the fall time. There is never a shortage of date ideas as long as you try to be creative or look for things to do. If there is something that I missed and you think should be on this list, leave it in the comments below or contact me on one of my social media accounts. Until part four, see you guys later.