What Would Happen If You Stopped Beating Yourself Up?

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What would happen if today you actually stopped beating yourself up, and treated yourself how you should be treated? Not because you suddenly have a brand new mindset, but because you are tired of being your own worst enemy, and realize putting yourself down isn’t actually making any changes.

What would happen if you stood in front of the mirror this morning, said hello gorgeous, and meant it? Not because you suddenly look differently, but because you finally realized there is no point in beating yourself up over the things that you can’t change in this very moment.

What would happen if you actually found a reason to be excited to go to work today? Not because you suddenly have a new job, but because you remember you are lucky to have a job in this economy, and that for better or worse, it’s where you are spending majority of your time, so you might as well find a reason to look forward to doing the work you’ve chosen to do.

What would happen if today you actually allowed yourself to eat healthy and enjoyed nourishing your body? Not because you suddenly stopped liking all the junk food and your tastebuds have changed, but because you realize this type of food will actually make your body, mind, and soul feel better.

What would happen if you didn’t just go through the motions of the day, but found reasons to be grateful you are alive? Not because you are dying, but because you remember how lucky you are to be alive.

What would happen if you allowed yourself to workout for at least 15 minutes today? Not because you suddenly love to, but because you know this will improve your overall health and well-being. 

What would happen if you went to bed not dreading waking up in the morning, but excited to have another day to live your life? 

Too many of us wake up and are not pumped for the day ahead because we have gotten stuck in a life we are not pumped to fully live in. Rather then thrive, we just start to exist. We follow the motions of getting ready, eating, or a lot of the time, not eating breakfast, and then going to work. Then we work work work at a job we aren’t completely satisfied with, and count the hours till lunch when we get to escape, or too often, eat at our desks. Then we go back to work work work, and just when we can no longer bare it, we realize it’s almost time to go home. We’ll dick around for an hour or two on the computer, so it looks like we are working, and then the time comes when its acceptable to leave, so we rush to get the f out of the office and into the real world. However, that only last for a few minutes before we are forced to sit on subways or in traffic to make it back home, which no longer feels like an oasis, but another place to just exist. We crash, turn into zombies that eat junk, watch crap TV, come up with excuses as to why we don’t need to workout, and fully become a shell of a being. We fall into a black hole of existence, and subconsciously black out all of our problems. Then before we know it, it’s time to go to bed, which means we become hyper aware that tomorrow is another day, we have to wake up at an hour we do not want to rise at, and go back to doing a job we aren’t passionate about doing.

Why? 

Because somewhere along our journey’s someone told us this was normal. Many of us saw our parents live this way, or we simply fell into a slump, and just accepted it.

Maybe it was slow and gradual, or maybe you found yourself in a giant crisis, during which it felt like everything imploded on you and your being. Honestly, it doesn’t matter how you’ve gotten here, all that matters is that you at least understand that you are here, and that this needs to change. You don’t need to change everything in your life suddenly to stop this destructive behavior that I call “existing zombie.” However, you do need to start somewhere, and the easiest place to start, is with your own mind.

Again, I fully understand that this is easier said then done, but the thing is, it needs to be done, and a few small changes will lead to a lot of big changes before you know it. And if you can’t change all the external forces that are making you one of these existing zombies, which I’m sure you are telling yourself right now, then the easiest thing to do is to change yourself.

By simply taking stock in the things you do have, rather than the things you don’t have, you will quickly see you have everything you need. Yes, maybe you don’t have all the money you want, all the clothes, trips, and whatever else we get hung up on, but you probably do have so many things that many other humans would kill for. Things like an able capable body that can move without medical assistance, two arms that are functioning, two legs that are functioning, eyes that see, a body that can breathe on its own, and ears that hear. And if you don’t have all of these things, you still have majority of them, which is still super fucking lucky.

If this doesn’t make you stop and think, “fuck, I am lucky,” then what about having a safe, clean, dry, warm place to sleep at night. How about having access to food whenever you want it, or clean drinking water, or a shower? I know these things don’t feel like much because you’ve probably had them for a long time, but that’s the thing, when we reflect on all that we have, we realize the rest is all bullshit, and these things are actually not give-ins for everyone in life.

Yes, you’ve been programmed to think you need the coolest, the latest, the newest, but it’s not true. You don’t need any of that. What you need, you have. What you want is another story, and fully up to you. Additionally the more we let go of the wants, the more we leave space in our lives for the things that truly matter like gratitude, community, and altruism. The less stuff we acquire, the more space we have to explore mentally and physically. The more we appreciate those around us, the less likely we are to feel the need to escape to a fantasy we’ve created about someone we lust after via social media, or some other random channel.

I know to some of you, this may all seem obvious, and to others it may seem rather hippy dippy, but there is a reason you’ve read this far, and why you came to my blog in the first place. Maybe it was curiosity. Maybe it was my image. Maybe you accidentally hit a button that took you here. Whatever the reason, you are here, so all I ask you in this moment is to simply stop, take a breath, and say 5 things you are grateful for. If you roll your eyes, and think I don’t want to, then you my friend are the person that needs this even more than others because you are running from yourself, your life, your mind, and this is not healthy..

I promise life doesn’t have to continue to be this way, and it won’t. You just have to chose to keep pushing to find the light. It won’t always be easy, but it will always be worth it.

Besides what’s the worst thing that could happen? You end up in a more peaceful, happier, and gracious place then you are in now. That’s the worst thing that could happen, so don’t even try to go down the negative rabbit hole of what ifs because what you are forgetting is there is all the beautiful what ifs waiting for you on the other side.

So, what would happen if you stopped beating yourself up today?


Feel free to leave your doubts, your fears, your secrets below, and together we will get through this. It truly is one day at a time.

Much Love,

Barrett

Posted on October 24, 2018 .
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DEAR BOYS

Dear Boys,

Be a man they will say. 

Let me tell you what this means.

Be kind. Be respectful. Be open. Learn to communicate. Don’t be afraid to cry. Don’t be afraid to be afraid. Don’t lash out. Don’t think being mean is cool. Don’t think being cool is important. 
Be open. Don’t feel like you have to hold everything in. Don’t think you have to go through all your problems alone. Don’t act like everything is ok if everything is not ok. Don’t hurt yourself. Don’t hurt others.

Be strong. But not just physically strong, be emotionally and spiritually strong. Don’t worry about having a six pack and muscles that hold no purpose except to look a certain way. Don’t focus solely on your exterior. Don’t think you have to play sports that hurt your brain and your body to prove that you are strong. Don’t get lost in sports. It’s ok to feel lost. Ask for help.

Be fluid. Don’t think you have to prescribe to labels. Don’t be afraid to hug your friends. Don’t be afraid to give your dad a kiss on the check. Don’t think that being gay makes you less than. Don’t think showing love to others makes you weak. Show love always. Wear whatever colors you want. Grow your hair long. Wear makeup. Express yourself fully without limitations. 

Be polite. Hold the door open for others. Say please and thank you. Remember to put the seat down. Use your words to express how you feel, not your fists. Use your brain. Admit when you are wrong. Speak up when you see something you don’t agree with. Stand up for others. 
Be humble. Don’t be proud. Don’t let pride guide you. Don’t let your ego get in the way of making smart choices. Be honored by second place. Be honored you got to play at all. Understand your privilege. Use it with grace and compassion.

Follow the law. Don’t touch anyone who hasn’t given you permission. Don’t speed. Buckle your seatbelt. Respect women’s bodies. Respect other men’s bodies. Respect your body. Don’t drink and drive. Don’t drink too much. Remember your choices will have consequences. Think before you act. Think before you do anything. Be smart.

Boys we can no longer just be boys. Men it’s time we stood up and said NO MORE to other men.

What is something you’ve felt has been pushed on you by society, your family, or other external forces that don’t align with who we should be?

Much Love,

Barrett

Posted on October 24, 2018 .
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IMPERFECT = I'M PERFECT

Perfection was a word I struggled with for a very long time. Growing up as a different type of child, I often strived to be as “perfect” as possible. I was an overachiever academically. I was nationally ranked as a competitive swimmer. I was kind, took part in activities that gave back to different communities, and maintained an exterior that I hoped was pleasing to others.

However, as close as I could get to the idea of perfection, I always felt as if I fell very far from achieving perfection. 

I thought that if I could force myself into being the perfect person, others wouldn’t mind, notice, or care about the things that innately made me very different from my peers. However, as I continued to mature, venture out on my own, and explore my sexuality, and ultimately my self, I began to understand that I could never fit into society’s notion of perfection.

Perfection by definition is universally unobtainable. It is a word that means something different to every person. Thus to ever truly be perfect means you must rid yourself of the idea of perfection, and accept imperfection.

While this seems completely counterintuitive, it actually becomes beyond logical once we break down the language that we use to express this very idea.

When we do this, we give ourselves permission to understand that even when things are “imperfect,” they are actually perfect. Even the word imperfect, when broken down, becomes “I’m perfect.” Right now, I want you to spell the word imperfect out loud.

You can hear yourself saying i-m-p-e-r-f-e-c-t. Now say just the two first letters, and then the rest of the word, i-m-perfect.

Hearing yourself say, “I (a)m perfect,” is an incredibly important thing. It is the first step in understanding that you truly are perfect.

I first fully came to the realization that everything is truly perfect by being imperfect while I was meditating. It was as if all the teaching and readings I had done around “self-help” had collided to gift me with this invaluable understanding. It seemed so obvious, but that is the beauty in life. We truly do have all the answers sitting inside of us. It simply is a matter of accepting that we know this, and gifting ourselves the time to talk to our selves.

To fully embrace imperfections is to fully embrace that you are already, in this present moment, completely perfect. Not just imperfectly perfect, but fundamentally perfect.

Language as a whole is a concoction of words and sounds put together by human beings to formulate meanings to help us make sense of the world, and ultimately ourselves and how we fit into this world. When we begin to deconstruct language, and in many ways the ideas we hold onto about ourselves, we begin to understand that everything is simply a mind game. We hold the power to think of ourselves in a much higher sense of being. We just have to let ourselves do this. 

The idea that you are already perfect may seem ridiculous, scary, or insane, but why?

Probably because someone once a long time ago told you that you weren’t perfect in some way. They probably made a comment in passing that they didn’t think twice about, and then left you with a feeling of imperfection. To make this matter seem even more absurd, this person was probably dealing with their own insecurities around perfection, so it was easier to project their feelings of imperfection onto you.

A prime example of this from my own life is when I was around 11 or 12 years old. My father made a comment about my nose being big. It was a comment that I doubt he thought about again, but it was one that sat with me for years. It made me look into getting a nose job, created an insecurity within myself, and made me dislike a part of physical being that I had no part in creating. 

My nose lets air enter and exit my body. It gives my face character, and it is the nose I have. I could sit here and write negatively about my nose, but by choosing to accept my nose, I am feeding more positivity into my life, literally breathing it in. Additionally, this in return also makes you think of my nose as a positive. It is far more attractive both energetically and physically to speak highly of ourselves. We attract higher vibrations, frequencies, and energies when we do this, rather than when we speak negatively about ourselves or others.

So I must ask…

What would happen if you stopped picking on yourself, and focused that same amount of energy into thinking you are perfect? 

Chances are your whole life would elevate.

Why not allow yourself the opportunity to feel like you are wholly, or to continue our play with language, holy perfect. You do not need to explain yourself to anyone, and you do not owe anyone an explanation as to why you feel holy perfect. This is a feeling that you must manifest for yourself, and then continue to let yourself feel everyday.

It takes work, but anything that is worth having in our lives takes work. We work our bodies out, so that they feel healthy, fit, and strong. Why wouldn’t we do the same to something as powerful as our mind or soul?

By reminding yourself everyday that you are perfect, and allowing imperfection to manifest into perfection, you are freeing yourself from the societal restrictions that are holding you back. After all, the only time we feel imperfect is when we compare ourselves to others. Without comparison there is no perfect or imperfect, there simply is being. To be present in this present moment is to give yourself the ultimate present, being holy perfect.

When you can accept this universal truth, you free yourself in every way. To understand that your life is perfectly how it should be, allows you the opportunity to remove the victimization that is so easy to fall into, and through action, take control so that you may thrive rather than just survive.

Remember to accept your life as perfect is to not say you are done growing. It simply means that you are accepting your unique journey, and where you are right now in life, so that you can feed more love and light into growing and evolving into an even more perfect version of yourself.

Your life is yours to create. Do it with kindness, compassion, and curiosity, so that you may continue to find new and exciting pieces of yourself.

What’s the worse thing that could happen? Your dreams come true?

 

 

 

 

Posted on August 2, 2018 .
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Gay Life: Authenticity Is The New Masc

As we watch cultural trends shift away from binary gender roles, the gay community is experiencing its own shift away from the same masculine ideals that have plagued straight men. We, as a community of men, are starting to ask the tough questions. 

What have we been doing wrong? Have we been following antiqued ideals of masculinity to gain acceptance? If so, what happens when we are accepted? Do we continue to follow something that was never truly indicative of who we are? If we allowed ourselves the freedom to truly be, who we wanted to be, without worrying about fitting into cultural norms, who would we be? Ultimately, are we happy following our straight male counterparts notions of what it means to be a man?

With the rise of movements like Me Too and Times Up, straight men are having to look in the mirror, and ask these tough questions, which means that we, as gay men, no longer feel as much pressure to be like them. Add to the fact that younger generations are no longer so caught up on labels, and the perfect storm for self-expression emerges. Words like queerness, fluid, pansexual have taken rise and inclusion has become more important now, than ever.

Yes, we still have a long way to go in terms of equality. Yes, our LGBTQIA brothers and sisters are facing their own battles in acceptance, visibility, and rights. However, as things like Ru Paul’s Drag Race, Queer Eye, and Adam Rippon become staples in not just queer homes, but all homes, it feels like a new type of gay man is emerging out in the public. Someone that is unapologetically himself, whether you like it or not, although it looks like majority of our world not only likes him, but loves him.

He is someone you might see taking the latest fitness class, but also who isn’t afraid to wear nail polish to work. He is a scruffy Olympian, who’s vernacular consists of words like, kween, gurl, and yaaaaaas. He is someone who is masculine, but also not afraid of his feminine side, and it is refreshing, exciting, and important.

Never before have we had so many out and visible different types of gay men. More athletes, actors, politicians, and public figures across the board are out and proud, and we needed this. While there still is a huge focus on the gay white male, we are slowly seeing our brothers of all different creeds, colors, ages, ethnicities, socio-economic backgrounds, etc take the stage they too, have long deserved. We needed this badly. 

Young gay boys no longer see just Jack McFarland or Will Truman as the two types of gay men that they could possibly grow up to be. They now have movies like Love, Simon or Call Me By Your Name, which simply show young men figuring out themselves and who they want to be. They are young men, who happen to be gay, not solely gay young men. They are multifaceted human beings experiencing life lessons and struggles that all adolescents go through. It’s heart-warming, tear-inducing, and more than anything, human.

In the movie, Love, Simon, there is a powerful and thought provoking scene that shows all of Simon’s peers coming out to their families as straight. While it’s cute, charming, and funny, it’s also poignant, in that it addresses an absurd idea that straight is the norm, and only gay children need to have a sit down with their friends and families to express their sexuality. What a beautiful thought to think that all children have an opportunity to connect deeper with their families by “coming out,” and further debunks some wild notion that normal equates to straight.

Lastly, the idea that these types of men aren’t just the gay best friend, but leading roles and role models means that real progress is on the horizon. While the “Fab 5” from Queer Eye are all having an incredible moment, Jonathan Van Ness, seems to be the shows stand out as he is literally everywhere at the moment. With that said, each man from this show is truly doing something beyond important, both culturally and historically. 

Adam Rippon stole the hearts of nearly everyone who watched him skate his way to a silver medal at the Olympics, and as someone who never “passed,” it’s soul healing to watch. While the numbers are still few and far between for these type of standout roles, or the platforms to create them, I think we are on the verge of a real shift happening, and I’m proud to stand with all the men doing the hard work, so that future generations won’t have to think twice about any of this.

And yes, even I think it is fun to say yas. However, ladies please remember just because we are gay, doesn’t make us fabulous. We are fabulous for the hard work we put into being better humans, for the fact that we still have to face an incredible amount of stigmas and hate, yet face it with class and grace, as well as an insane amount of other reasons. So please, get to know us before you throw that fabulous word at us. I definitely don’t speak for everyone when I say this, but it makes a lot of us feel like your pet, when that’s the first thing that comes out of your mouth. Finally, pretty please don’t assume that just because you have a gay bestie, he’s perfect for us, or that we will click right away. We get that you’re coming from a good place, it’s just not fully appropriate. Just follow the golden rule, to assume anything, makes an ass of you and me.

Ultimately, being gay never meant we were destined to be one specific way, and while so many of us had to experience this through countless ups and downs, hardships, and confusions, it’s truly a gift to see so many men, especially younger ones, understanding that living authentically is truly the best way to simply be you, gay or straight. 

Posted on March 29, 2018 .
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10 Reasons Why I’m Giving Up Meat

“On average, Americans eat the equivalent of 21,000 entire animals in a lifetime.” That means you will have eaten around 21,000 animals in your lifetime, and for some it’s a lot more.

That’s a lot of fucking animals.

I’ve long considered going pescatarian as I’ve never truly had a huge affinity for meat, but love fish. I figured I could easily give up chicken, and keep eating the chicken of the sea. However, after staying in one Friday night, and partaking in a Netflix and chill kind of evening, my ignorance was shocked beyond belief.

We’ve all heard what goes on within the meat industry, but we tell ourselves an array of stories to keep doing what we want. Ignorance is bliss after all.

My bliss was shot to shit once I bit the bullet, and watched Cowspiracy on Netflix. I could go into detail about what goes on within the documentary, but the truth of the matter is, you should just go and watch it.

Cowspiracy was the catalyst, and Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer, was the closer.

I could no longer act like I didn’t know what happens within factory farms, which is where 99% of our meat comes from, and I decided it was time to make a serious life change.

I don’t know about you, but I’m someone who tries to live a really healthy life.

I recently went sober for 50 days, I exercise almost every day, and I watch what I eat. I consider my body a temple, and I try to honor it in as many ways as possible, so when I finally took the dive into the deep end of figuring out what’s really going into my body, I was shocked, disgusted, and frustrated.

Thus, I’ve decided to give up meat, and here are 10 reasons why:

1.    Poop, Shit, Dookie!

In his book, Eating Animals, which I highly recommend, Foer states, “farmed animals produce more than 130 times as much waste as the human population --- roughly 87,000 pounds of shit per second.”

This shit is the leading cause for global warming, out numbering all transportation combined, and there basically is no waste-treatment infrastructure to deal with this.

This shit seeps into rivers, lakes, and oceans and is 100% affecting our bodies as well as the planet.

When the FDA did a test based on 5,280 samples of pork chops, ground beef and ground turkey they found that 90% of the samples, and 95% of chicken breasts were contaminated with fecal bacteria.

We are literally almost always eating shit when we’re eating meat.

2.    We’re eating CATS & DOGS.

Every year millions of cats and dogs are euthanized in animal shelters, and then processed into food for our food to eat.

Did anyone else know this?! How did I not know this?!

“We are subsequently eating dogs and cats that just aren’t cute enough to be someone’s pet. Almost twice as many dogs and cats are euthanized as they are adopted.”

That’s not to say that all of them are made into food for our food, but knowing this fact, I could no longer be a part of the problem.

3.    If I can’t stomach what's happening then it shouldn’t be in my stomach.

After reading multiple books, watching multiple documentaries, and educating myself in various ways, I found myself disgusted at what I learned. With each new fact I read, image I saw, or video I watched, I literally felt ill because there’s so much we ignorantly avoid educating ourselves about.

If you can’t watch a baby chick get shred up because it is deemed “useless” as a male, a cow become completely deformed because of the hormones it’s being pumped full of to make milk, or pigs be slaughtered in the most inhumane way than your ignorance isn’t bliss, it’s simply ignorance.

For the record, a cow has to be pregnant, or at least it's body has to think it is, to produce milk, which is something a lot of people don't realize.

4.    Meat doesn’t mean healthy.

There’s no absolute fact that says you have to eat meat to have a healthy body, it’s a tale that we’ve been fed, literally and metaphorically, over years and years.

I was part of the problem, and didn’t even realize it. 

Up until recently I found myself explaining to my clients the importance of consuming meat protein because it would help build and maintain muscle; however, there are plenty of other foods super high in protein that can support the body’s numerous needs when it comes to the protein.

Lentils, tofu, black beans, quinoa, and a number of other foods contain high levels of protein, and can make your plate look even more delicious.

5.    You are what you eat.

Or so the saying goes.

Well, I’ve decided I don’t want to be a dead piece of meat. I’d rather be a vibrant, rich, and healthy vegetable.

When you think about the fact that we’re eating genetically modified meat that isn’t coming from the farm on the range, but a warehouse packed full of sick animals, it makes sense that as a society we’re getting sicker, heavier, and are on a massive health decline.

I get that you can be a fat vegan, and a completely healthy carnivore, but why add to the risk. Two studies done by Life Extension Magazine reported, “people who consumed very little meat showed an average life-span increase of 3.6 years.”

3.6 years can be the difference between seeing your kids get married, traveling to numerous exotic places, and is an additional 3.6 years you get to spend with your loved ones. 

I’ll take it.

6.    You aren’t eating what you think you are.

When Bill Niman of Niman Ranch was forced out of his own company because his board wanted to do things more profitably, you know something is up.

You know something is ever more “up” when Bill Niman says he would no longer eat meat from the company he once started.

I use this example because Niman Ranch still claims to be a “natural” meat ranch, which I know a lot of people will argue is an effective way of still eating meat.

However, what I want to make clear is that language like “natural, cage-free, free-range, etc.” are all words that are completely meaningless when you know the guidelines behind getting certified to use these words.

We are being duped in more ways than anyone could ever imagine.

7.    Bycatch

I love fish. Like a lot.

But when I found out that 145 other species are quickly becoming endangered because of the bycatch, the action of catching other species while fishing for one, I could no longer justify my love for sushi.

For every one 1 pound of shrimp caught, 26 other pounds of other sea animals were killed and tossed back into the ocean.

All different type of dolphins, whales, stingrays, sharks, seahorses, albatrosses, and numerous other animals are all regularly killed when fishing for tuna.

We’re overfishing our oceans, killing some of my favorite animals to the point of extinction, and wrecking havoc on our ecosystems because we have become beyond gluttonous.

8.    It’s all about the Benjamins.

Money, money, money.

Big business knows what they're doing, and knows that they’re producing disgusting, diseased, and in many cases deadly products, but they don’t care because they’re getting richer and richer.

Animals are being genetically modified and artificially manipulated to grow faster than ever, which causes serious health risks for the animals and you.

However, this doesn’t seem to be a big enough problem because it keeps costs low low low, and nothing is being done to stop this.

The faster the turn around, the higher the profit, so who cares how shitty the product is, especially when it’s going to be made to smell fine, look fine, and taste somewhat how we expect, by the time it gets to your plate.

I would compare it to the cigarette industry, but everyone knows smoking will kill you.

What everyone doesn’t know is how fucked our meat industry is.

9.     Meat isn’t what it used to be.

The meat today is a crappy knockoff of what meat was 20 years ago.

Farmers aren’t going to lose their jobs because they already don’t have jobs. Farms today aren’t going to disappear because real farms are already gone.

The connection between farmer, land, and animal is a romance written in the past, and has been stomped to death, the same way chickens have been reported to be on countless occasions.

Yes, I went there.

Sure, you can buy meat from specific farms that are explicit about their humane practices and environmentally conscious ways, but the thing is not everyone can.

To further the problem if we were to actually produce all meat in a sustainable way than the land we would need for animals to sustainably graze would leave no where for majority of our large world's population to live.

Every second an acre of the amazon is destroyed to make way for crops to be grown to feed our food, not other people. Say what?!

The demand for meat is rising globally as countries like China and India start to eat more and more like us. The price for sustainable meat is not sustainable to anyone’s wallet, and greed is still the largest deciding factor of how legislation is written around food labels.

As of March 21, 2016 the United States government has passed a law stating that companies no longer need to label what country our meat is coming from.

Does that sound completely backwards to anyone else?

10. I was ready to change my way of thinking.

I want to be crystal clear, I’m not looking to scare you into making the change I consciously have decided to make, but I do want to share what I have learned, which is fucking scary.

After knowing the facts, and understanding how all of this was affecting my body, the environment, and animals all over I realized I wanted to make my own difference.

What this really meant was changing the way I thought about eating.

In my mind, a meal was supposed to have meat as the main attraction, vegetables as the sides, and maybe something else as the extras.

However, this isn’t the only way to eat, but it was the way I was trained to eat.

Once I understood that I needed to reprogram the way I thought about eating everything clicked, and I was able to find myself feeling satisfied, full, and a lot more vibrant for back of a better word when it came to my mind, body and soul.

My skin has been the best it’s ever been, my body feels more agile and less achy, and while everyone I know is getting sick, I have remained in tip top shape.

Yes, you could argue all these things are the result of many other variables, but the truth is nothing else in my life has dramatically changed.

Remember that this is bigger than all of us.

It isn’t about one single issue, it’s about the decline of our environment, which politicians told us wasn’t happening at one point. It’s about the fact that chickens aren’t even considered animals when it comes to animal rights laws. It’s about the fact that you're consuming things you don’t even know about.

Would you blindly trust someone to watch your children? Would you blindly trust someone to perform surgery on you? Would you blindly trust someone to be your boss?

So then why are you blindly eating the meat that is put before you?

You may chose to never look deeper into all of this, or you may start to do some digging for yourself, after all the choice truly is yours.

Regardless of what you chose to do, remember: be mindful in your choices, ignorance isn’t bliss and 3.6 years is 1,314 days, 31, 536 hours, 1,892,160 minutes, and 113,529,600 seconds.

So the next time you wish you had more time, remember you can, just put down the hamburger and pick up a spicy sweet potato and green rice burrito bowl instead.

Change is scary because it means facing the unknown, but the more you taste the unknown, the more you realize meat wasn’t that great to begin with.

If nothing else, just some food for thought.

Be on the look out for a lot of healthy vegan/vegetarian recipes in the near future!

Posted on February 23, 2018 .
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Call Me By Your Name Will Bring Out Your Insecurities

Call Me By Your Name was an emotional experience for anyone who has had to love and let go. 

For me it was an even more emotional experience. Just two hours before seeing this beautifully sad tale of a love lost, I found myself standing at the corner of 53 street and 8th avenue, looking into the eyes of someone I love, and thinking I was losing them. It’s been a rollercoaster ride over the past two and a half years for me and this incredible human being, but so is life, and as Call Me By Your Name so beautifully showed us, not everything works out as we expect, plan, or hope. 

We all have things that we are insecure about, and when someone unexpectedly shows up in our lives that reminds that we aren’t alone in those insecurities, life feels immensely less lonely. 

And that is what we all want, to be less lonely. To find someone that we can share our secrets with, to feel related to, and to feel like time slows down and you’re the only two people in the world in those moments together. 

However with finding that person comes the possibility that we may not get to have them forever, and that is what makes love so scary, deep, and honest.

The final moments in this tale of love sent a message that we all need to hear. The father, Mr. Perlman, played by Micheal Stuhbarg gives one of the most eloquent pieces of advice to his son, Elio, played by Timothée Chalamet that I have ever heard. 

The speech’s text, which follows and is a light spoiler if you haven’t seen the movie or read the book yet, hits to the core of who we are as humans. But even more so, what we need to be conscious of as we go through this wild thing we call life, regardless of your age, sex, religion, race, or whatever.

“In my place, most parents would hope the whole thing goes away, or pray that their sons land on their feet soon enough,” Mr. Perlman says. “But I am not such a parent. In your place, if there is pain, nurse it, and if there is a flame, don’t snuff it out, don’t be brutal with it. Withdrawal can be a terrible thing when it keeps us awake at night, and watching others forget us sooner than we’d want to be forgotten is no better. We rip out so much of ourselves to be cured of things faster than we should that we go bankrupt by the age of 30 and have less to offer each time we start with someone new. But to feel nothing so as not to feel anything—what a waste!”

What a waste in deed, and what an imperative thing to hear. We spend so much time running from being uncomfortable, shielding ourselves from pain, and trying to conform to societal norms.

Why?

Because in our youth we stood out for better or worse about something, and someone, most likely our parents, or someone of authority told us that it wasn’t good. It could’ve been a small, insignificant, passing statement to them, but to us it was something that would sit in our essence and core forever. I know that as you read this you can probably recall such a statement. For me, it was the countless peers telling me I was less than with words like "faggot" being thrown at me daily, and while those words burned so deep, it was actually hearing my dad tell me that I had a big nose at the age of 12 or so that buzzes in the background of my identity.

It was the first time I had ever really considered my looks in general, and to have them scrutinized in a negative way would be the beginning of my own physical insecurities. My father's words coupled with the constant ridicule of my peers is what continues to be at the center of any insecurities I know I still hold onto today. 

I don’t share this piece of personal history as a way to garner sympathy, but simply to say, I understand deeply how badly we yearn for approval, specifically from our parents, and when we don’t get that approval the way Elio does, it can extinguish our light, our uniqueness, our flames. Something Elio's father brilliantly warns him against.

While Call Me By Your Name is having an incredibly successful run at the moment, and I personally loved the film, I know many people have their fair share or criticism. However, beyond the movie, what I found to really be such a special experience was to sit in a sold out theatre full of mostly gay men and watch everyone around me feel that they had been seen and heard.

To know that the showing before and after the one I sat in was sold out, and almost all other showings of Call Me By Your Name have been sold out, reminded me that it has been years since a gay centric movie has been at the center of pop culture. As far as I can remember, nothing since Brokeback Mountain or Milk has really come close to what Call Me By Your Name is currently experiencing in terms of relevance, popularity, and importance. With the current administration making so many of us feel like second class citizens, this film is providing not only a safe space for us outcast at a very compulsory time, but for younger generations to hear words that are healing, caring, and empowering.  

Love it or hate it, Call Me By Your Name will leave you feeling as if you’ve been thrown back to your younger even more insecure self, but in a way that makes you feel grateful to have made it to today. Even more so, it will remind that your flame still burns deep inside of, you just have to care for it, and let brighten each day through self-care, being a little kinder with yourself, and love.

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5 Top Tips For Better Blogging

I never thought that when I started my blog in 2013 that 4 years later it would be my main source of income. I started it as a fun project with Bianca, one of my best friends from college, as a way for us to keep connected and show what we thought was cool. However, we sat down one day and very seriously wrote out a plan, brainstormed ideas, and tried to come up with something that we thought was unique.

Thus Artisan & King was born. 

It took a while to find the perfect name, but one day while getting lost in a blackhole of the internet, I found myself taking a personality test, which classifies you into one of seven Roles: Server, Artisan, Warrior, Scholar, Sage, Priest, and King. Can guess what I ended up being? 

Yup, I was an Artisan and after making Bianca take the test and being proclaimed a King (or Queen), we knew we had found our name. This leads me to my first tip for better blogging.


1. HAVE A MEMORABLE NAME

There are thousands of blogs today, and if you want yours to be one that is remembered than you’re going to have to make yourself stand out in the sea of saturation. People often have no idea why my blog is called Artisan & King, and to be fair the mystery is part of the appeal for me. It’s a great conversation starter, and it reminds people that we all have an artisan (creative) and a king (leader) in all of us. 

Personally, I also think it sounds slightly more professional from a business stand point to have a blog name that differs from your actual name. Yes, my social media accounts are all my name, but that is also where I feel slightly more personal. My blog on the other hand is my home base for everything I want to talk about, not just one quick image from one specific day. When I think about my fellow bloggers who have made a real career out of blogging, they too have their blog name and their actual name as something different.


2. COLLABORATE, COLLABORATE, COLLABORATE

This is something that so many people shy away from because they’re either too afraid to reach out to someone they admire, or they simply think it’s better to do everything on their own. As someone who grew rather quickly in the blogging sphere, I can promise you that reaching out to people I admired was not only beneficial for me, but for them as well. We were able to build relationships, share each other’s content, and when it comes time to recommend other bloggers for jobs, we don’t think twice about who to suggest.

The other thing that I think scares a lot of people away from collaborating is that there’s an idea that you’ll be handing over jobs, or giving your competition something that should have been yours. Here’s the thing, whether you do or don’t work with someone, they’ll still be out there in the blogging sphere, and I can promise you they’ve been seen by the same clients. It’s not a win/lose relationship when it comes to collaborating, it’s a win/win, and you’ll only benefit by teaming up with other bloggers. 

Yes, not everyone will want to collaborate, but some will. Yes, following size will range between bloggers, but as long as the collaboration makes sense this shouldn’t matter too much. And yes, you should think strategically when it comes to your collaborations, after all this is a business, so get out there and collaborate with bloggers like you!

Plus it’s a great way to meet new people, and I’ve actually made quite a few friends by doing this.


3. BE AUTHENTIC

This is the most fundamental piece to blogging when looking to make a well rounded blog. I accredit my authenticity to what helped me grow quickly in the beginning, and what helped me find my voice.

When Artisan & King first launched it was meant to be a lifestyle blog with a guy/girl take on fashion; however, after going through my first real break up with my first real love, I couldn’t find any interest in fashion. I was writing, but about my feelings, and I just couldn’t force myself to write about something that didn’t feel relevant to me. Thus, the “Feelings” section in my blog was given life and I was able to post my first piece.

I would’ve never guessed that this section of my blog was where I’d originally find my audience from; what would be the tipping point for becoming a professional blogger; or what would give me the chance to be a contributor for The Huffington Post.

To this day the Feelings section in my blog is my personal favorite as it’s where I get to speak my truth, leave pieces of my heart, and write things that help others feel less alone. Ultimately this section is the voice for the blog as a whole.

I can’t stress it enough, but the more authentic you are, the more people will want to be a part of your journey because in so many ways it’s their journey too.


4. STAND FOR SOMETHING

So many social media accounts today are endless vanity projects that do nothing, but give their owners a false sense of validation. I know that when I first started my modeling career, what I was looking for beyond money was validation. It’s something that we all want, and it makes sense as we all deal with silly insecurities; however, if all your posting about is stuff and your gorgeous face than people will get bored.

I often joke that you should use your powers for good, not evil, so if you find that images of yourself do the best, as they almost always do, then incorporate important messaging.

This specific tip is one that I find myself frustrated with when looking through things like Instagram because so many people have giant accounts and don’t use them to promote important occurrences, news, organizations, differing cultures, or a plethora of socially conscious things. I respect that not everyone is interested in world events, or that they think their opinion is relevant, but when we watch people like Donald Trump get elected to office, it’s clear that we need more and more people speaking up. Especially those who have the power to influence thousands, if not, millions of people. These things most likely won’t pay you in monetary value, but they will pay you in so many other ways, and at the end of the day I can promise you that when I have spoken out on controversial topics I haven’t lost followers, likes, engagement, or branded contacts, so don’t let those things hold you back from doing what you know is right.

If you’re serious about making blogging a profession than you have to understand that at the end of the day, you’re agreeing to letting the public into your life. It may not seem that way in the beginning, but the more you start to share, the more you realize this is part of the job, and for better or worse, it’s not going to change.


5. BE USEFUL

Being useful perfectly puts the cherry on top of the sundae when it comes to sharing my top 5 tips for blogging. 

By being useful you are giving a potential follower a reason to hit follow, not just like your pics and disappear. Whether it’s style tips, workout tricks, or inspiring others to pursue their dreams, you need to make sure that you serve a purpose. Too many people get caught up in just creating beautiful content, which I’m not including in this list because beautiful content is a must, not a tip. However if your blog, Facebook, Instagram, or whatever is just beautiful to look at, eventually people will get bored of it, so make sure that you have a target mission that sits at the heart of your blog.

Additionally, remember that you should try and find a focus that fits what you’re good at. If you can’t cook, don’t be a food blogger, but maybe be a “learning to cook” food blogger. There’s a way to spin anything into an interesting and engaging blog, but remember you have to find a way to make yourself standout.

Today blogging is a lucrative profession that thousands of people are looking to break into everyday. It’s a major offered at universities, and something that is only growing. I often accredit timing, my eduction, and dedication as being the 3 key things for how I found my place in this highly saturated world of blogging. While blogging looks easy and glamorous from the outside, it’s actually a very time consuming profession that often doesn’t pay off until years later, or if ever. 

While you may think you can just jump on the blogging bandwagon, quit your job, and do whatever you want, it just doesn’t work that way. So make sure you are ready to spend hours each day alone writing, your own money on things that you hope one day become free, and people thinking your nuts because you’re following your wanderlust. 

Blogging isn’t for everyone, but if you think you have an original idea, what it takes, and the drive and dedication to make it big then implement these 5 tips and get going because every second you waste someone else is out there living the life you dream of.

Posted on November 14, 2017 .
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Love At First Sight

I’ll always remember the way you made me feel when I first saw you.

Butterflies, excitement, and intrigue in a foreign way. You were something out of my wildest fantasies. Your gentle energy mixed with your soft sexy accent sent electricity through my being as we greeted each other for the first time, and I knew almost instantly that there was something so incredibly special about you.

Your eyes spoke to my soul as our gazes met, and I drowned in the ocean that was you. I was breathless because you took my breath away with your external beauty, but what you shared from within was even more dazzling than what I could physically see.

I had heard of the expression love at first sight, but until I saw you I didn’t know that this expression could be so true. 

Some would argue it was lust, but I know wholeheartedly that it was love.

Love that isn’t fanatic, young, and irrational, but soulful, deep, and otherworldly. I was nervous to feel what was happening because I had been somewhere like this before, but the ease in which our energies intrinsically melded made me want to know more.

You said things to me that I wish I had heard from past lovers that spoke to my soul within the first 30 minutes of knowing you, and I had to hold back from saying, “I love you” because that is what crazy people do. Instead I just stared at you in disbelief because that was all I could do. You were real, but everything felt so surreal.

You were everything I was looking for, and I wasn’t even looking for you. Yet that is how love works. As we connected deeper and deeper it felt as if we were the only two people in the world, and I could feel myself drifting away with each glance you sent my way. I barely knew you, yet I felt as if I had always known you. 

Time was moving, but we were frozen in our own moment in which nothing else mattered and your presence made me more present than I had ever been before.

I ached to know more about you, and we pushed for more time together as we snuck away from the urbanites that surrounded us. We found ourselves alone wrapped up in each other’s beings, and it felt as if NYC was a far away land.

We held hands, we kissed, and we felt as if we had known each other forever. We bonded, we connected, and we unearthed something so rare that first night as we shared intimate pieces of our souls with one another. 

I will always remember that enchanting first night that I had the privilege of meeting the man that would inspire me to be better, to continue fighting for what is right, and to know there are some people who just get you. I will remember all the moments we shared on your couch high on life and each other. I will always remember the way our bodies felt as they collided in pure pleasure as our naked skin touched without boundaries, but most importantly I will always remember that moment when I first saw you, and how that moment changed my life. 

Posted on May 8, 2017 .
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GAY

An ode.

Being a homosexual

Means being multidimensional.

It starts with a struggle, confusion, an inner fight,

Ultimately reckoning with your own grit and might.

To be yourself, pure and true

And learning to not let anyone else determine who,

You will love, and who you will be

Because that is your own right when you are free.

We come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and ages

Velvet Rage explains the stages.

Moving to the big city,

Everything’s just so wild and pretty.

Shiny and new

You look up and say “Thank you!” 

Finally escaping the small town way

You’ll always remember your first day.

Meeting all kinds of men and  boys

It’s more fun than your childhood toys.

Gay bars galore.

An unhealthy search for more and more.

Broken hearts,

Feeling another mans parts,

Electricity is released inside

And your left wondering how could I ever hide?

This piece of me

That isn’t beastly.

It’s just different not good, not bad

And yes, some of us want to be a dad.

Learning the difference between sex and lust

And when a guy is just looking to bust.

Going to your first Pride,

Showing acceptance worldwide. 

Coming out stories,

Subcategories,

A whole animal kingdom

Is that how you spell come?

 Wolves, otters, and bears

Each determined by their own specific flares.

Gaga, death drops, and “girl please”

Make a queen come to her knees.

A vernacular all our own 

Words change with a shady tone.

Grindr

The sex finder.

A hot fuck

Feeling like a schmuck.

Dancing till the sun comes up

Dealing with that guy that says, “Sup?”

Fire Island and P-Town

Experiencing a come down.

Limits are tested

Finding out how much you are truly invested.

Protest

We will never digress.

Standing for love

And rising above.

Being gay 

Means you were born this way.

We didn’t ask for this blessing in disguise 

But fuck it’s one amazing surprise.

A life unlike any other

In which you find many a brother

An indescribable bond

That truly goes beyond.

Never forget how lucky you are

And the progress you’ve made so far.

Sometimes it’s just nice to hear that you’re incredible 

Edible, 

Delicious and totally amazing,

So please keep those guns blazing.

I just wanted to let you know

That you’re beyond status quo.

You might not have heard this in a while,

But you’re crushing life and doing it in style.

Give yourself a pat on the back

And your tuckas a smack.

Hey gurl hey!

The amazing life of being a gay.

Posted on March 30, 2017 .
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Why Gays Are Programmed To Gossip

And why this needs to stop.

If you’ve ever been around a bunch of gays at a party, a bar, or wherever then you’ve probably been a gossip, or gossiped about, and unfortunately this has become all too common.

How many times are you with a group of gays, and everyone is just having fun, then someone throws some shade, and before you know it, you’re all bashing someone you really don’t know that much about?

It’s a slippery slope.

I know I was a huge gossip in my elementary and high school years because I was gossiped about. I was the gay kid at school before I identified with being that person, and I didn’t like the negative attention I was receiving, so I tried to deflect this attention and gossiped about other people.

Unfortunately for many of us gays, we go through a second adolescence when we come out, which usually means moving to a bigger town or city, and submersing ourselves around other gays. I know I’ve felt like I was back in high school many times when I first moved to a new city, and being back in high school meant there was new people to gossip about.

Thus, the gossiping starts all over again. 

I know personally this would happen a lot when I first started hanging out with different groups of gays whenever I moved to a new city. The guys I would meet would talk shit, and I thought in order to fit in I also needed to have an opinion about everyone, but then I realized we were all talking about these other men because we didn’t want to talk about ourselves.

We were unhappy with our lives, and we didn’t want to admit it, so it was a lot easier to manipulate our jealousy into nasty comments about guys we barely knew.

After all we felt like we knew these different guys because someone we knew once slept with so-and-so, or we met dude X at a party once, and he was “a total dick.”

This idea of “knowing” someone is heightened in today’s social media obsessed world, and as gay men, it often feels like an even smaller world. Many of us live in gay bubbles, and through almost one degree of separation, we all “know” each other on some level. However, it’s really easy to forget that we don’t really know these guys, we just think we do.

We live in a culture that is hyper-sexualized, drug and alcohol filled, and image obsessed. Yes, this isn’t the case for everyone, and it’s not completely different than our straight counterparts’ world, but there is an extra level of complexity. We are different, and we are self-sabotaging ourselves with these unhealthy devices into thinking that we are happy, when we are in fact not dealing with bigger issues that sit deep within us.

We think that when we come out of the closet, we are freeing ourselves of all our problems, but the truth is, this is just the beginning to dealing with all of our baggage. It’s within this concept that gossiping becomes an almost programmed feature into our gay lives.

For many of us, we were the kid that was gossiped about. We were the person that wasn’t good enough, didn’t fit in, and was straight up uncool, and it hurt. So when we finally move to a big city, and find our gaggle of gays, it feels good to be accepted, and even more so desired.

We quickly forget what it felt like to be the outsider, and again it feels good. We were an outcast if not to our peers than in many ways to ourselves. Who would want to go back to that feeling?

Our egos are delicate, and our level of competition is often off the charts because we aren’t only men, we’re men competing for other men. Everyone becomes a possible lover, or someone to take away our lover. It can be beyond challenging to find our own inner confidence in this new world that we’re all figuring out, so we often look to outside validation, and building ourselves up at the cost of someone else.

However, as we continue neglecting the conversations that we need to have with ourselves, we often find ourselves even unhappier than before. We need to start gossiping about ourselves with ourselves.

As gay men, we’ve all dealt with differing levels of shame, and felt the need to cover up what makes us different. In doing so, we often project onto others what we don’t like about ourselves, and it’s doing us a great disservice.  

We need to stop being afraid to talk about ourselves, our problems, our feelings, our internal conflicts. We need to stop gossiping about others, and start talking about ourselves. This doesn’t mean we should all become crazed narcissist, but what it does mean is we need to start being honest.

Remember we talk about others when we don’t want to be talking about ourselves, and when life is good, you want to see other people happy and doing well. When you’re happy with your life, you want to talk about it, and inspire others to make positive changes as well.

Now more than ever, we need to build each other up, not tear each other down. So I challenge all of us to take a step back the next time we want to talk about someone else, and think is this a positive or negative thing that I’m about to say, and why do I want to say it?

When we finally get rid of the gossip, we start talking about what’s important, and that is a beautiful thing to be a part of.

Posted on February 23, 2017 .
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Dear Straight White Dudes

Who support and voted fro Trump,

What’s up? 

For dudes that were so loud, I feel like a lot of you have gotten really quiet, and I don’t even know where you all went? I feel like a lot of you recently have been feeling a little afraid. It’s not fun, right? 

I, and a lot of other people, know exactly how you’re feeling because, well, we have been afraid of you guys for a long time. I personally tried really hard to be a straight white dude. I even fought being authentically myself for like 20 years, but low and behold, I just never could fully play the part. Being ignorant, and mean for no reason didn’t really suit me. 

CRAZYYYYY, I know.

You see I can blend in with most of you when I’m just standing around. I’m also a white dude, just not straight, so unless I’m having sex with my partner in public, I assume most of the time I can blend somewhat in. I mean, I’m pretty gay after all, but you get the point.

What I’m trying to say is, why you tripping boo?

I’m not saying all of you are afraid of your masculinity being challenged by, well, basically anyone that isn’t a straight white dude. It’s not like it’s a super delicate flower or anything, but it feels like you’re kind of worried a lot about everyone else’s personal lives. 

Like why do you care so much that someone might be Muslim, that a dude might want to marry another dude, or that women want to have the rights to make decisions for their own bodies?

Do you think you should always have the right away, and be privileged based upon nothing specific?

Again, I’m not trying to say you’re feeling weird, but it feels like you feel weird.

Did you once have a weird thought about another guy? Does that woman wearing a hijab confuse you because you’ve never seen one? Do you think you’re entitled to do whatever you want with your boner because no one told you that no means no?

Look, I get it, you basically have been told you’re better than everyone else for your whole life, so when a black guy, a muslim girl, or a gay dude comes around you feel uncomfortable. Different is scary at first, and the fact that you’re so worried about everyone else’s lives would make you think we are really worried about yours, but we’re not.

We don’t want to take away your rights, the same way you’ve tried to suppress or taken away ours. We don’t want to convert your kids, we just want to make sure they’re educated, open-minded, and overall nice human beings. We want this planet that we all live on to be protected so you can also live here safely, and we think clean water is more important than making some rich white straight republican dude even richer.

I promise you money isn’t everything. Especially when you have no planet to live on.

Does this sound dramatic? It does kind of, but this is literally what millions of us around the world are worried about because of you guys.

Don’t get me wrong, I know it wasn’t just you bros, there was also the Trump Twats, the self-loathing blacks, gays, and any other minority that thought voting for Trump was a good idea that voted for him. However, you guys were the biggest turn out, and you guys are the ones that have grown up to now be the leaders of our country, so we kind of need to have a real chat.

Here’s the thing, you might think you’re totally open minded, and only voted for Trump because of one issue, but as you can see, you voted a monster into office because you wanted some reject frat bro to make you feel heard again, not great again because our country was actually thriving. 

Again, I know different is scary, but different doesn’t mean bad. Different is how we think beyond the confines of how we’ve always lived, and created amazing technologies, positive and progressive social movements, and made the world a better places for the next generation of kids, which include yours.

I know you’re worried about your guns, your kids, and your really special lives, but your guns aren’t more important than who I can marry. Your kids aren’t any more important than everyone else’s, and your lives are actually being hurt by criminalizing diversity.

I’ve been searching for you since the election because I feared we’d end up here, and now that we have, you’re really hard to find.

Don’t worry you’re not my type, that’s definitely not what this is about, but I would love to sit down and talk. I feel like if you came out of your bubble, and maybe saw what life was like in other parts of the country and world, you’d see how nice us snowflakes really are. 

We believe in equality for all, including you, and we think a hit of marijuana, legally of course, would take a lot of the edge off, but let’s be honest, we know you’re secretly smoking the stuff. We think all religions deserve to be practiced, although, personally I feel like they’re just tearing us apart. We believe that love is love, and what one person does in the privacy of their bedroom doesn’t affect anyone else, it’s been proven for years, and men and women are in fact equal. Race is just something that makes us beautifully colorful in a room, when everything is white it’s quite boring, think of like a hospital. Not so welcoming, right?

Anyways, what I’m really trying to say is, wake up! We, the diverse, educated, differing socio-economic, transgender loving, Muslim accepting, black lives matter believing, feminists, eco-friendly, gay friendly human beings of the world need you to join us in protecting our country, and ultimately the world. We want to keep America great, but make it even greater, and as you can see that’s just not happening.

So let’s be friends. Let’s hang out. Let’s talk, let’s do this quickly because time is of the essence, and you need to use your white heteronormative privilege now.   

We sincerely appreciate it!

And as always much love!

The new and ever changing faces of diverse America.

Posted on February 18, 2017 .
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Gay Shame, Internal Homophobia, and the Need to Redefine Masculinity

M is for masculinity.

As I’ve been watching, reading, and observing all different videos and articles about gay culture, one theme has really hit a cord with me, and it’s the idea of masculinity that plagues our community.

For a long time it was seen as desirable to be as “masculine” as possible, so that one could “pass.” The idea of passing as a straight man was widely considered to be a beneficial thing because it allowed you to be looked as “normal,” and not experience the discrimination and bullying that comes when one doesn’t “pass.”

However, while there are many problems with this notion from the very beginning, I understand why historically many men just wanted to get by. With that said, I find it incredibly disheartening to watch so many men today, especially on dating apps, be overtly discriminatory within the very community that they belong to.

I never passed, so I know the true hardships that come from standing out. I was gay to others before I even knew I was gay, and it wasn’t a friendly welcoming experience from those others, so I get it.

The idea that being more or hyper masculine equates to something more enticing for a large portion of our community speaks to a greater insecurity, and an internal-homophobia that still exists in a large way. As Alan Down explains in The Velvet Rage, “when we were denying that we were gay, we acted as if we were straight. ‘Acting as if’ meant that we had to split our lives into two parts: One part was the acceptable, public self. The other part was the secretive, darker self.” The idea of “splitting” is an especially damaging occurrence because as we grow older, and even after we come out as gay, we “continue to split off unacceptable parts of ourselves.”

Thus, anything that may feel like it isn’t masculine or heteronormative becomes something that many gay men still fear, and why there still is a huge divide within the gay community. Things like race, gender norms, ageism, body types, socioeconomic status, and a multitude of other things create a huge divide amongst a large group of men, who are all gay.

Yes, just because you’re gay doesn’t mean that you have to prescribe to a set way of being. In fact, I think that is part of the beauty in being gay. We get to challenge what's normal to be uniquely ourselves; however, when we start to divide ourselves into some sort of hierarchy based off of what is deemed more acceptable as men, a larger problem exists.

I think it’s incredibly important to further this conversation by looking at the definition of the word masculine. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines masculine as, “having qualities appropriate to or usually associated with a man.” 

Where in this definition does it say anything about deep voices, super worked out bodies, and specific styles of grooming and dress? No where. 

Society has created an idea of what masculinity is supposed to be in order to put binary restrictions onto not just men, but also what women are supposed to be in comparison. Our consumer culture has further perpetuated this for hundreds of years in order for things to be neat and tidy, and sell us male targeted merchandise. Well, the world isn’t so neat and tidy, and as we’ve seen nothing has imploded yet.

To take this one step further, men, while being masculine, have been taught to be less expressive, less sensitive, and to hide their feelings. What this has to lead to is a large group of men that are mentally unhealthy, and unable to open up when they truly need to, gay and straight. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention states that “men die by suicide 3.5 times more often than women,” which is heavily related to not taking care of one’s own mental health.

As men we’re taught to keep our bodies strong, but not our minds strong. We need to have a real discussion of how detrimental this truly is, and let it become a common practice for men, and women, to know that it’s beyond important to open up and share how you’re feeling.   

Furthermore, I think more gay men need to realize that coming out isn’t the answer to all your problems, it’s actually the very beginning to authentically addressing all the other real problems you carry in that expensive baggage that weighs so much. Let’s be serious, all the fabulous things in your life aren’t going to be able to overcompensate for the lack of self-love that sits on the very shallow surface. I know, I’ve been there.

The desire to pass in today’s world is still a very large complex for many gay men, but the thing is, whether you’re passing or not, you’re still a dude that likes dick, and that makes you gay. We need to start diversifying social cliques, interactions, and be more inclusive within our already discriminated against community.

I think we need to start defining masculinity, or what is thought of as more masculine, in terms of being a good human, being emotionally and mentally intelligent, and not being a tool. In my opinion a real man is someone who stands up for what they know to be the greater good, is accepting and loving to all people regardless of their differences, and doesn’t lead with their dick, but with their heart. 

As gay men we'll never fully pass because we aren’t straight. At the end of the day you may want to walk around in public like you’re some machismo dude who wants to sleep with every women, but the thing is, you still like dick. To be honest the more we acknowledge how amazing this difference makes all of us, the more likely we are to finally break down our own internal barriers, feelings of shame, notions of outdated masculinity, and start to see our community change for the better.

It’s time we let go of who we think we’re supposed to be based off of heteronormative ideals because those ideals don’t fit us, and if we're being completely truthful, those ideals don’t seem to be working out so well for our straight counterparts as well. Let’s show the world what real men look like, and finally let go of that excess baggage too many of us are carrying around.

Posted on December 16, 2016 .
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Why You Must Rid Yourself Of Your Ego To Live Your Dreams

It’s sabotaging you. 

That little voice inside of your head that says “You’re better than him; She’s not half as smart as you; It’s not your fault,” is the negative energy that will stunt your growth, and will be constantly looking to find other’s guilt. It’s the thing that will hold you back from finding love, your ultimate dreams, and the community that wants all of those things for you.

Yes, it’s a hard pill to swallow, but removing your ego gives you the power to control your life. It’s what allows YOU to finally take responsibility for YOUR actions, and remove the blame we often want to place upon others. Through this process you’ll be able to pin point your own character defects, which we all have, and commence the phase of your life that leads with love.

If you aren’t living a life that looks to create then you are, by contrast, living a life that destroys in some way. This life is one that leads from a place of hurt and pain. 

Neale Donald Walsch in Conversations with God, shows that “when you ‘c’ things correctly, you become Creative, rather than Reactive,” simply by moving where the letter c sits in those two words.

While it’s extremely uncomfortable to confront the internal pain that we hold, the longer we let it sit in the driver seat of our lives, the longer it controls us, not vice versa.

Our character defect is the thing that we often neglect because it’s a large part of how we identify ourselves. It’s usually the piece of us that plays the role of victim, and while you may not have had control over other peoples’ actions, you, right now, hold the power to say, “no more!”

You in this moment get to decide who’s driving your life. 

Remember by finally jumping into that driver’s seat, you aren’t neglecting, or getting rid of all the hurt and pain, you’re simply saying, “I’m in control. I see you, Pain. I’m even willing to let you come on this journey, and sit in the passenger seat, but don’t you dare act up, and don’t even think about touching the radio.

On a personal note, I know how hard it is to make this transition, especially when you feel neglected and hurt from people that you love: parents, extended family, romantic relationships, etc. However, those people don’t care how much you blame them. In fact, they probably blame you for many of the things you blame them for, so there’s really no winning.

There’s a famous quote that says, “Holding a grudge is like letting someone live rent-free in your mind,” and I don’t know about you, but it seems insane to let such prime real estate go for free. Holding a grudge has even been highly associated with a “history of heart attacks, high blood pressure, arthritis, back problems, headaches, chronic pain, and stomach ulcers” according to a study conducted at the Medical College of Georgia.

To take it one set further, how often do you hold yourself hostage inside of your own negative thoughts? We say things to ourselves that we would never dream of saying to our worst enemy. 

Why? 

Because we’re taught that to think highly of ourselves means we’re cocky, arrogant, or self-absorbed. It’s a tool that people, who are insecure and in positions of power, facilitate to manipulate us into thinking we aren’t good enough to question their authority, to question the system, to question everything. However, when you start to love yourself from a place that says, ‘I’m no better than any other, and we’re all equal,” you start to truly lead with love.

You need to stop coddling your weaknesses, and start claiming your strengths. For when you do, you no longer hold onto the predetermined story of who you think you are. 

How often do you say, “It’s just the way I am,” and use that as an excuse to perpetuate something that’s holding you back?

When you change the story of who you think you are, you start to change how others look at you, and ultimately begin to heal the part of yourself that feels that hurt and pain so deeply.

Marianne Williamson has said, “sad days aren’t bad days,” and it’s something that we need to hold close to our hearts and our brains, especially with the current political climate that we’re living in. We need to use these sad days as vehicles to learn, and set ourselves free from fear, and ultimately the internal dialogue that holds us back, our egos.  

When you know your strengths, and your weaknesses, you’re able to shift those weaknesses into strengths, and ultimately find your true power, which is to positively affect the world in some way.

Now more than ever we need an army of mindful warriors that uses love to ignite the change we need so badly.

Rid yourself of your ego, and find your greatest dreams finding you.

Posted on December 13, 2016 .
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The Moment You Know Your Relationship Is Really Over

You tried everything.

However, when something doesn’t work, it just doesn’t work, no matter how you try and spin it.

You know you tried to communicate your feelings, your wants, your needs. You even found someone to help mediate what was getting lost in translation, to try and make sense of what wasn’t making sense, but he just didn’t want to give you those things. He just didn’t want to meet you in the middle. He just didn’t want to meet you at all. 

You could argue with yourself that this was all in your head, but he actually said he was coming to meet you, and then he didn’t at all. A metaphor for your relationship, and a knife to the heart.

It wasn’t like you were asking for lavish things, or held unrealistic expectations. You were simply looking to build a life with your partner in a way that was evolving and progressing. In a way that said we’re growing together, not separately.  

You fell in love, and you tried your damnedest to show him how amazing it feels to fall, but he just didn’t want to fall with you. He was unable to find your silliness a place of comfort to be his silly self. 

You tried acting differently, and putting your needs and feelings aside. You tried speaking every love language you could think of, hoping that he would finally speak at all.

But all you got was uncomfortable stares, judgmental comments, and just enough when he knew it was almost too late.

You hit your breaking point, you broke your own heart, and so you needed to take a break. 

You tore yourself away from the person you became addicted to, and asked for some space, but even that was too much to ask for. It wasn’t on his terms, so your needs weren’t met, and you found your your heart conflicting with your brain.

You knew what had to be done because you had been here before. You knew you needed to finally say goodbye and mean it. You knew you had to hurt yourself by hurting him. You knew you needed to walk away from the love that made sense in your heart, but not in your brain.

You found the strength to utter the things you never wanted to utter through teary eyes and your crackling voice. You watched the future you had imagined disappear, and the dreams of building a family vanish into thin air.

Your heart hurts in the most profound way because you know there’s no going back. 

You tore a metaphorical limb off in coming to this get-wrenching, heart-breaking, soul-crushing decision. In getting to this point, you already had to lose the limb, and even though you can see it right there in front of your face, there’s no way to reattach it.

In the past, you had tried reattaching, and building it stronger, but there was no way to save the arm that was never actually there. 

You lost what felt like a part of yourself, and you know you’ll never feel this specific love again.

And just when you thought it couldn’t any worse, he finally said everything you had dreamt of hearing.

That he finally wanted what you wanted. That he finally wanted that dream you had scared him with. That he finally wanted to move forwards as a team.

The words he finally speaks hit you like bullets because you know they’re meant to kill. Family, babies, house on the beach, travel the world. One after the other you hear as you teeter between shock, frustration, and sadness. 

Your mind swirls with every emotion.

This combination of words that he shoots at you with the gun that is the lips you loved to kiss, break your already broken heart into an ever growing number of pieces. They haunt you just as you thought you’ve truly moved on, and rip the stitching that is your heart trying to mend itself back together.

There’s no mess to clean up, no public pictures to remove, and no big things to exchange because he was protecting himself from this part the whole time. It’s a clean break, or as clean as the situation would allow.

He told you he’d always be there, but a simple question was met with so much despair. An hour long conversation based around what he needed to say, left you without any answers, and once again reminded you he couldn’t give you what you needed.

A text later says the opposite of what he originally said because he needs to do whats best for him, so “goodbye for now,” he says to you. You then realize you weren’t doing what was best for you in moving on, and take pen to paper to get your thoughts out.

Then it happens. You find your relationship is actually dead. There’s no breath, not heartbeat, no chance of coming back. Any last sliver of hope is cut at the cord, and you know it’s one hundred percent done. 

A picture that says a thousand words confirms your instincts. It says, “I judged you because I wanted to take part in what I judged, but didn’t know how.” You wish you felt vindicated, just, or better for knowing you were right, but you’re only left feeling sad that he never felt comfortable enough to be honest with you and your heart.

A few moments later you catch him trying to sneak past you, and you know in that moment that your relationship is really over. It’s done for good. Over as if it had never started.

The feelings of sorrow, pain, and loss wave through your body like a tsunami crashing on an unchartered course. Distractions are plentiful, but never truly enough, so you do what you can, and sit with these feelings.

You remind yourself that while you lost a limb, you’re still alive and well. You focus on the good, and remember that now you have the chance to meet the person, who not only says he’s coming to see you, but actually shows up as well.

You remind yourself that you’re valiant and strong, and that being single doesn’t actually mean you’re alone. 

This truly is a new beginning. You wipe the tears from your eyes, journal through your crazy, and close your eyes knowing that you gave it your all.

You think love is fickle and fine, but the love that you share with yourself is the love that needs to stand the test of time. You remember to give yourself the hug you needed today, and that you’re one of the lucky ones who got to feel this way. The love you miss isn’t the love you needed, and while it may hurt in this moment, you hold the power to change this feeling.

Yes, it’s over, but thats ok. Now keep your head up, breathe, and just take it one step at a time. Don’t rush into anything, just gently find your feeling, and know it will all be ok.

P.S. You’re amazing.

Posted on December 12, 2016 .
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The Top 3 Reasons Why Being Alone (Single) Is So Scary

It's scary, till it's not.

As I’ve swam through the pool of crazy in my own mind over the past week, dealing with my own breakup, I’ve pushed myself to question what about being alone is so scary. In doing so, I’ve started to comprehend that for me, being alone, or single in terms of a relationship status, means that I now have to look within.

Since I came out, and started dating like my straight counterparts, I’ve always had someone who I was interested in, actually dating, or fully committed to.  I’m someone who likes being in a relationship, and if I’m being completely honest, I know that I struggle with being alone.

However, understanding this has pushed me to look even deeper into the idea of being alone to answer some of my own questions, and try to reason what about being single scares not only myself, but millions of us.

Here is what I’ve determined: 

1. Being alone forces us to have to sit with ourselves and our own neuroses, which go all the way back to our childhoods.

Having to relive similar feelings from when we were developing in our childhoods, is an extremely difficult thing, especially for those of us, who had traumatic experiences while in our youth.

We’re subconsciously, or sometimes consciously, reliving some of the hardest feelings of our lives from which our entire persona exists. This becomes even more difficult if those experiences, feelings, or emotions were never fully dealt with, and linger in our beings. We’re then forced to wrestle with our own ego minds, which is the very place we go to in order to feel a sense of pride. 

As John C. Maxwell states, “Pride deafens us to the advice or warnings of those around us.” Thus, we must be willing to check our arrogance at the door, uncomfortably go back to our childhoods, and push through our sense of self as we have come to know it.

This is life’s biggest challenge.

2. We have to accept that we’re not perfect, and take some responsibility for why our relationships haven’t worked out. 

Continuing with the theme of pride, when a relationship ends, we have to come to terms with the fact that the other person isn’t entirely to blame. To maturely take responsibility for our part in something not working out is an extremely bitter pill to swallow.

Yes, our friends and loved ones will tell us that we tried, we’re amazing, and that the other person just couldn’t meet our needs, but if we’re to truly better ourselves, we must understand how we played a role in the ending of our relationships.

This isn’t to say that the other person really couldn’t meet our needs, but it’s highly important to fully understand what our needs are, so that we can wholly comprehend them, communicate them, and try to work through them within ourselves, and one day, ideally, with someone else.

To examine this more completely, we must also understand that projection is impossible when there’s no one to project onto but ourselves. Thus we have to own our insecurities and anxieties, and responsibly and delicately change the aspects of our personalities and minds that are no longer meeting our evolving needs.

No one is perfect, and while it’s much easier to incriminate our exes, it’s much harder and more humbling to single ourselves out.  If we’re to ever truly make something work then we must take some responsibility, and move forwards in a way that is productive and transforming.

Too many people want to focus on the other person, and this only leads to repeating similar mistakes, and plateauing in emotional and mental growth.  

3. We have to confront the fact that the community, we’d built with our partner, is no longer a place where we can derive happiness and a larger sense of security from. 

This isn’t to say that we don’t find security, support, and joy from our family and friends, but being single means we have to look out for ourselves in a very different way than when we are coupled up.

When we’re in a healthy relationship, there’s an immense sense of comfort knowing that someone else has our back, and that we have our go to person for not only the good, but also the bad. Furthermore, this is the foundation for creating a community together that ideally lends itself to the notion of a “family.”

As Art Markman explains, “The interactions we have with other people affect the way we feel about life. Our close relationships keep us grounded and influence both happiness and the sense that we are part of a larger community.”

Happiness is literally derived from a strong community, and that is why being alone can feel so daunting, especially at the beginning of a breakup.

Furthermore, a 75 year long study done by Harvard University, “The Secret of Happiness,” reveals that “the most important happiness choice is to invest in your closest relationship whether it’s a spouse, partner, parent, sibling or friend.”

Thus, it makes even more sense, that when our romantic relationship, which we tend to place a lot of emphasis on, is destroyed, our grounding sense of not only community, but also happiness is devastated. We’re forced into a state of change that is the “unknown,” which as we learn through life, initially commences as a sense of anxiety or fear.

Nevertheless, as we start the renewing process of finding a feeling of security by focusing on the other relationships in our lives that matter, most importantly the one we have with ourselves, we’re able to make sense of this “unknown,” and shifting where our happiness comes from.

Once we can logically and emotionally grasp this “unknown,” we can create a space of security from within, which is what we initially came into the romantic relationship with, and what we struggle to remove as we allow someone else into our lives, and ultimately our hearts.

Taking down the walls we’ve built is hard, and can become harder the more loss we’ve experienced in our lives. This’s why when something like a relationship ends, we feel a sense of destruction, damage, and defeat.

However, it’s beyond imperative to remember that the only way to find a greater sense of security and love is to allow those walls to come down, and let vulnerability be a guiding element in your life.

Ultimately, when a relationship ends we’re left thinking what is all of this about? Why are we here? What are we doing? Am I ever going to find that special someone?

And the truth of the matter is, we’ll never have all the answers, all we can look to do is live in the now, and focus on the positive aspects of our lives. Only we have the ability to look deep within ourselves to answer such questions, and continue to try and evolve, so that we may be better versions of ourselves for all the relationships in our lives, romantic and otherwise.

We can never truly hide from ourselves, and while a relationship sometimes feels like a validation for who we are, it can never be what makes us feel whole. Yes, it should be something that adds immense value to our lives, and brings us enormous amounts of happiness, but we should always be looking to see how we can progress into our greatest selves.

We must be the person we want to date, marry, and spend our whole life with, so that each day until we meet him or her, we know we’re already living your greatest truth.

Being alone isn’t scary at all, it’s a gift we’re given by the universe, so that we may find out who we truly are in the face of adversity, excitement, and when everything is simply ok.

There’s never an excuse as to why we shouldn’t be working on ourselves, doing the things we want to do, and going the extra mile to simply find our peace.

While we’re alone, it’s vital that we do the work, take the time, and explore every interest we may have, so that if we chose, because it is a choice, to let someone else into our life, all of this work will have been part of how we found that special someone, and ultimately how we make it last.

We've got this!

XO

Barrett

 

Posted on July 26, 2016 .
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Are You A Member Of The Heartbreak Club?

You may have joined on purpose, by accident, or were forced into this club, but regardless of how you ended up here, I want to say, “I’m sorry.”

I’m sorry that you’re feeling anything close to how I’m feeling because I know just how miserable, hard, and hopeless it can feel. How just when you think you’re ok, everything comes flooding back, and the sadness returns.

Welcome to the most humdrum club that exists, but where you can come and know you’re not alone, which right now probably is the most important thing to truly understand.

I didn’t plan on becoming the welcoming committee to this club, and I’m sure I’m not the only one greeting members, but as I’ve stayed true to myself, and cathartically expressed my most intimate feelings about mourning my own love lost, something eerily beautiful happened.

We connected.

You and I, and more people than I think even I can comprehend, found our hearts synergistically speaking to one another in the most profound and deepest of ways. We connected in an age that makes this horribly difficult, and in which this is all many of us crave.

As day 1, and now day 2 of my own heart’s lament comes to a close, I’ve been inundated with messages from friends and strangers expressing how they too relate so intensely to what I have written. I assume subconsciously I knew that others would understand, as it seems obvious now, but when we fall so deep into our own minds, it can be hard to remember that there are millions of people out in the world feeling exactly how we’re feeling, especially when it comes to matters of the heart.

We get lost in our own crazy, and often fear sharing this side of ourselves. It feels unattractive, lacking control, and far too human for the technologic world we exist in.

We’re made to think that we should only show the bright, happy side to our lives, and that if we show any type of vulnerability it makes us weak. But as I’ve learned through the years of sharing my own not so shiny stories, the more we’re honest, open, and candid about what’s really happening, the more we can feel an authentic connection to one another.

I’m a firm believer that we should never try and hide our more somber feelings because it’s during these times that we need others the most. When we need to be frank and a little messy. When we just need a shoulder, a hug, a story that sounds familiar.

Yes, I know you want to be strong, but don’t be reckless when it comes to yourself, your soul, and your heart.

It’s dangerous, and The Heartbreak Club is here for you.

Ironically, I first learned about this club from my ex, who even now, I feel so strongly for because in this tragic time, I know we’re both feeling the same intense pain and loss. Being so connected was part of what held us together for as long as it had, and why I will never speak ill about this amazing person, but our story became too complicated, and mentioning this club to me before we were even officially done, I suppose, foreshadows how this would be where we both ended up.

I wish we could comfort each other during this time, and I think he does too, which makes the entire situation all the more difficult, but wishing only makes wishes, and this just isn’t possible.

We’ve tried, it doesn’t work, it sucks.

I’m sure you understand this in some fucked up way, and for that again, “I’m sorry.”

However, The Heartbreak Club welcomes you with an open heart, open ears, and an open mind.

We’re here without any judgment, and fully recognize you would love nothing more than to not be in this club. We get it.

We welcome you regardless of how long it’s been since you’ve lost the love that makes you feel this way. It doesn’t have to be recent; it could be years over at this point, or as fresh as just a few minutes ago, there’s no right time to join or leave us.

The membership is free with no expiration date, and welcomes returning members.

We don’t care how official, or unofficial the relationship was because in the end it’s your heart, your mind, your being that feels how it feels.

We don’t believe that one ending is worse than any others because we understand that in life there can only be two winners, or two losers. It’s an unfortunate life lesson to learn, but one that speaks to the humanity of love and relationships.

We encourage you to be honest, to be sad, to be angry, and to be whatever the hell you need to be, but if you’re to truly honor yourself, then we recommend that you steer clear of bashing your ex, and making them the main focus.

The focus should now be on you, and your healing process.

I know this can be beyond difficult; especially when you feel like they’ve done you wrong, or that the little change you needed would’ve been easy to fulfill. The thing is, bashing him won’t make him feel any worse, and in the end, it truly will only make you feel shitty because in some unhealthy, yet completely sane way, you still love him. And that is how I can whole-heartedly promise you that you’ll find your way out of this club when the time is right.

We stress that there’s no right or wrong process to moving on, and that as long as you aren’t harming yourself mentally, physically, or spiritually you have every right to do whatever it is to find your light. The same luminous light that shimmered beyond bright before you first attracted the person, who now, makes you feel dull, dumb, and dim.

Remember that you were not only ok, but also amazing before you met this person, and you will not only go back to that delicious human being, but also evolve into an even more epic version of yourself from what you learn while in this club.

Know that at some point, unfortunately, your ex is also in this club, has been in this club, or will be in this club, and that majority of the people around you everyday have also carried a membership at some point. It’s a strangely haunting thing to recognize, and something that cosmically bonds us all together.

Love is what drives us before we find this club, it’s what brings us to this club, and eventually, it’s what helps us leave this club.

However, it’s the love you show yourself at this point that will make the difference, and ultimately, if you’re open to it, one day, help you find the person that forever revokes your membership from The Heartbreak Club.

I truly can’t express how honored and oddly poignant I feel to be the person that welcomes you to this club, and reminds you that you’re never alone. It’s what drives me to continue to share my soul in the scariest and most vulnerable of ways, and what helps me understand that one day my membership will also expire.

Till that fateful day comes, I will be here, as simply a member of The Heartbreak Club, for we’re all equals. I will continue to honor all my ex’s, faults and all, because they’ve taught me how to love, to let go, and ultimately, to grow. They’ve each planted a seed inside my heart that I have allowed to blossom into trees full of feelings, wisdom, and knowledge, and for that my gratitude will reign over any sadness I may feel.

I strongly encourage you to share this with your friends, your family, your loved ones, so that you may have an open, messy, and authentic dialogue about what it feels like to be a member of The Heartbreak Club, and more than anything I would love and appreciate hearing your story in the comment section below, so that we can all heal together.

I send all my love to you, and again want to say, “Welcome and I’m sorry.”

Love Always,

Barrett

Posted on July 22, 2016 .
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Day 2: When the Breakup Sinks In

It’s crazy how sitting at home can feel so different based off your relationship status.

A night home alone can feel recharging, relaxing, and welcomed when you’re in a relationship, but when you’re newly single it feels anxiety-ridden, overwhelming, and basically the exact opposite of how you want to feel.

Rather than snuggling, having sex, and just conversing with your partner, you now find yourself alone and void of distractions, which means you have to deal with the fact that your life has significantly changed, and it’s fucking scary.

As you light a candle, listen to some mellow music, and try to just be; sadness, confusion, and every not-so-fun emotion swirls in your head. You can’t help but think of the person, who regardless of your current status with, you love, and would’ve been sharing this night with.

Crazy is the name of the game, and yours is gaining traction with each second that ticks away.

You play out nonsensical scenarios in your mind that the other person is already in love with someone else, and you fight each insane thought, but the battle is up hill, and feels too real.

You think maybe you should dive right back into the giant pool of perspective people, the dating apps, the means of false connection, but then you collect yourself, and calm down.

You remind yourself that yes, you want love, but right now you need to do you. It isn’t going to be easy for a while, but one day it will feel beyond natural, and then maybe you’ll be ready for what’s next. 

Your day is full of distractions, but by bedtime all the distractions are lost, and you simply have to deal with what is happening.

It isn’t fun to sit in your mind, but how could you not, you’ve lost your partner in crime, and all there seems to be is endless amounts of time.

Finally you push yourself to turn off the lights, to try and fall asleep, to just close your eyes.

Then peace falls upon you as you actually fall into a deep slumber.

The marathon that you’ve been running in your head is complete for the day, and while it isn’t an accomplished feat, you feel relief that you’ve made it through all those mind miles for the day.

The morning sun beacons you to rise as your room fills with light, and while you wake up hoping your hope has returned, you’re reminded that you’ve woken up alone, and things have changed.

You miss him.

You miss his stinky morning breath, the way you’d wake up to music as he got ready for work, and the playful morning moments.

It’s a fleeting memory that you’ll hold close for a while, but today it feels more real, too real, realer than you can handle.

Day 2 is upon us of this fresh start, but your body feels physical pains, and nothing about this morning feels natural or new.

You catch yourself spiraling, and feel the crazy quickly coming, so you reach out to a friend, someone who you love, but in a different way. Gradually the gloom of the morning lifts, and your discussion solidifies that you’re making the right decision no matter how shitty it feels.

Day 1 you felt powerful, strong and optimistic, but as you glide into day 2, you can already feel it’s going to be harder.

Uncertainty, confusion, and “is-this-right” begin today’s mental marathon, but rather than fight it, you lace up your shoes, take a few deep breaths, and get ready for all the emotional running that today will undoubtedly bring.

This morning will be just another morning, yes; a slight bit harder, but only that.

Distractions await you, loneliness will find you, but these moments to think are beyond important to healing your soul. You know you’ll have to deal with it sooner or later, so you find the gratitude in letting the process commence.

Taking it all in, finding your Zen, and remembering that this just simply isn’t the end becomes the mantra of the day, and makes you smile.

Your thoughts begin to shift, and you can feel yourself coming back to clarity.

Maybe one day you’ll even want to be friends, but for now just knowing that you got to know him as more than a friend feels somehow lucky.

You’re strong, you’re powerful, and you know you’ve got this.

Day 2 we’re ready for this.

Posted on July 21, 2016 .
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Finding The Beauty In A Breakup

I love you, I know we're both sorry.

As a new moon commences, a new beginning presents itself. Changing with the tides, my Piscean essence has taken on a new look, a new chapter, and a new peace.

I have truly found my calm, my Zen, my now.

While transformation is necessary to one’s own survival, the transformation of one’s heart is possibly the hardest thing to accomplish. This becomes all the more difficult as you say goodbye to a love that has been present for a truly transformative year.

It’s over. It’s done. You tried.

Hate doesn’t drive the divide, and nothing but love and respect continue to be how the love will be honored because that is how it should be. However, as logic and feeling would have it, ending anything, especially in a world where we are taught to want more and more, is possibly the hardest thing anyone will ever have to do.

To calmly and rationally look at the person you love in the eyes, and say, “I love you,” but to know the actual relationship has died stabs your heart in the deepest of ways. To see the love flow through their tears, yet not be as strong as it once was, kills a part of you that you know one day will be ok, but right now is not, and overtime will take a lot of soothing and healing to revive.

Being kind you put everything out on the table, but slowly as the conversation deepens, and a gray area can’t be left, you know that you have to do the hardest and most mature thing possible, and say goodbye.

Goodbye to the thought of your future, of your children, of your family, and of all the areas of your lives that could have been intertwined in the most human and beautiful ways.

It’s hard; it’s really fucking hard, but you have to.

Yes, you clicked. You loved each other. You wanted the same things.

But it just isn’t enough.

It isn’t that you aren’t enough, or that they aren’t enough, it just, as unfairly as it may seem, is that your union isn’t enough.

And as hard, and sad, and confusing as it is, it’s ok.

It may not be ok now, or tomorrow, or in a year, but one day it will be ok. I promise.

I ‘m sure of this.

I know this for fact because you’ve been here before. You’ve felt the loss of your best friend, your love, your partner, and you survived.

You, you resilient, strong, and beautiful human being found your way out of the gray confusing abyss, where you questioned everything, to find a new, stronger, more resilient, and even more beautiful version of yourself. 

Yes, days will be so incredibly hard, and you’ll miss the kisses that connected you, the embraces that comforted you, and even the things you found so incredibly annoying because you grew to love someone. You let your guard down, you let your freak flag fly in front of someone else, and you found yourself loving someone else in a way you didn’t even know you could do.

Think about that for a minute. You, who thought this would never happen (again), found someone (again) to share so many special memories with, and that’s an exceptionally stunning thing.

Stop. Take that in for a moment, bask in that loveliness, and realize you were gifted something incredible, love.

While it may be over, and that is beyond difficult to comprehend at moments, you still got to experience love, and for that you truly are lucky. People will go their whole lives searching for this, and you got to find it, experience it, and have a solid amount of time with it.

Sure, it may not have been forever, but nothing lasts forever, and if you can shift your perspective to understand this grand finale was your heart’s first step to healing then you’re in a noble place.

Let your sorrow become a symphony. Let your gloom become glory. Let your heartbreak become your heart healing. Magic was there in the relationship, but your magic will be forever present with you, you just have to know where to find it.

And more than anything remember to honor this love for the goodness it brought because ultimately that is how you will honor yourself.  

Love is fickle. Love is complicated. Love is kind. Love is confusing. Love is frustrating. Love is simple. Simply put, love is everything,

Know if you are open to it, love will find you again, so all that’s left to do is pick yourself up, and keep hiking forwards because all you’re looking for is somewhere ahead.

Posted on July 20, 2016 .
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What If We Stopped Using The Word Gay?

And replaced it with the word love.

I by no means am looking to take anything away from anyone, but simply make a point.

What if every time we were to use the word gay, we actually said the word love. I know that anytime I discuss my sexuality to someone else what I'm ultimately trying to say is that I love.

Whether it's the word gay, fluid, homosexual, or whatever slang you prefer to use, I know that we're all trying to drive the same message home, which is that we love who we love.

We don't get to pick who that is, and we don't know why some of us love men, while others love women. What we do know is that we're all looking for the same things: acceptance, happiness, and love.

What if we stopped using the words straight, heterosexual, and all words that tried to neatly define sexuality because it isn't a neat little box that we all fit into, and the more we try to make people fit into something that doesn't exist the more we separate ourselves.

What if we actually stopped fighting each other, and saw past gender, race, sexuality, and all other differences that make us feel so foreign to one another? 

Would we finally remove power away from those who now monopolize it? Would we finally start to let love just be love? Would we finally be able to change the world?

I know this is a very extreme thought, and one that may never see the light of day, but what if?

I can't help but think about Orlando, about all those victims, and about the fact that it truly could've been me or anyone I know.

How can we think about anything else when this is the main topic of conversation on most media outlets, and rightfully so?

I can't help but think about how short life is, and how ridiculous it is that we're still having the same conversations, yet we're left swimming in circles. 

As I wrap up my 700 mile hike along the PCT, I'm forced to reflect on how different life has been when there are no comparisons. No gays, no straights, no CEOs, no McMansions, no salaries, no excess, just people enjoying life at it's simplest form. 

As hikers we simply carry our backpacks, and that is all we have. Sure we're not all the "same," but we live with the same purpose.

We all have our stories, we all have our pasts, we all have questions we're looking to answer, and most importantly we all have the search for love, happiness, and acceptance guiding us as we walk mile after mile.

In the wake of this horrific event I have challenged myself to get even more out of my way, and honor every last bit of myself because we don't know when our last day is, and I refuse to go through life thinking, "I wish," so in honor of my lost brothers and sisters I did something I've always wanted to do, and dyed my hair blue.

It's something that makes me unable to hide in a crowd, which was something I desperately wanted to do while growing up, and trying to hide from my sexuality. It's something that connects me even further to the rainbow flag that represents an amazing group of people I am privileged and honored to call my family. It's something that says I will never hide from who I am deep inside, a human, not a man or woman, looking to show, spread, and feel love because that is all we have.

My heart, not my prayers and thoughts, goes out to all those who have been affected by the shootings in Orlando. Thoughts and prayers have become a soundbite used by many politicians, who don't actually seem to care. May this finally be the catalyst that creates change, so that we no longer have to have these conversations.

Never stop dancing, keep on kissing, and remember love truly is love.

If you'd like to help all those affected by this tragedy then click here, or follow this link: https://www.gofundme.com/pulsevictimsfund

Posted on June 16, 2016 .
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Are You F@%king Serious New York City

For a city that holds over 8.4 million people, sometimes New York feels like it’s the smallest city in the world.

I get that we’re technically on an island that’s only 12 miles by 6 miles, and we’re endlessly stacked on top of each other, but I don’t get how I literally can go my entire time living in an apartment, and never see some of my neighbors, but I can’t escape some wild coincidences from happening over and over.

I want to say it’s the gay community, and I do think it’s a very small community, but it isn’t just us. My straight friends deal with the same thing all the time. Yes, it’s slightly more complicated in gay world because every other gay man has the possibility of becoming a friend, boyfriend, or something in-between, but I’m going to assume you understand what I’m talking about in a larger context.

And I know what you’re thinking, there must be some pattern I’ve fallen into, or I’m putting myself in the same situation over and over.

I can adamantly tell you, this simply isn’t true.

I make a point to see different friend groups, go to different types of bars, and travel to different neighborhoods. I’m even that weirdo that says hello to strangers in the supermarket and on the subway.

Yes, I actually do that.

Furthermore, I fully understand that certain people live, work, and play in very specific areas, and if you’re specific about a subgroup of people, specific careers, neighborhoods, and bars become the likely stomping ground for said subgroup. Case in point: gays, hipster, yuppies; we’re all creatures of habit to some extent.

However, what I can’t wrap my head around is how small this city really can become, and how a place you can love so much, can also be a place you just can’t stand in other moments.

Honestly, my love for New York City is endless and forever, but when it comes to social circles and dating part of me just feels as if I’ve gotten trapped in an endless whirlpool. It seems like it’s just the same people, doing the same thing, dating within the same people, rinse and repeat.

And when it feels like something different and exciting has finally come along, more often than not, it ends up that I’ve just been thrown back into the same spinning body of water.

I know this isn’t specific to just New York City, and that if you’re reading this from somewhere other than NYC, you can still fully relate.

To be honest, knowing this to be the case is extremely comforting in many ways because it reminds me that I’m not crazy, and that this is totally a normal feeling of frustration.

But I still have to ask, “Are you fucking kidding me with this shit New York?!”

For a while now I’ve thought about other cities, and what it might be like to live in Australia, London, or even somewhere not as far like Chicago, Boston, or Denver. I know these cities are technically even smaller, and I would most likely fall into this feeling again, but you just can’t help and wonder, maybe it’s time to leave.

The hardest part about this sentiment is, this is something almost every New Yorker feels at some point. It’s sad because when you fully embrace living in NY, you can’t deny that there truly is no other place in the world like it.

Yes, it’s intoxicating, unhealthy, and beyond harsh in so many ways, but it’s also one of the most robust, romantic, and invigorating places that anyone could ever dream of living in.

In college I escaped to Paris for a semester, which was amazing, but had a time limit attached, so it wasn’t exactly in the same vein, and being a student makes everything completely different.

I’ve left once to LA, and was gone for 3 years. It wasn’t the worst experience, but I was the person that knew it wasn’t my forever.

To be fair, I don’t know if LA and I really had a fair shot. When I moved there fresh out of NYU, I didn’t know what I wanted: I was still figuring out who I wanted to be, what I wanted to do, and where I wanted to live. I found it hard to find people I really vibed with, and at the end of my stay I was dating someone in Norway, which was crazy, but I was young and in love for the first time.

All of that aside, my life is truly much happier on the East Coast personally and professionally. It’s just way more “me.”

If nothing else I know more than ever that my 652 miles and 45 days gone hiking part of the Pacific Crest Trail couldn’t be happening at a better time. I have a lot of things I need to think through, work on, and walk away from metaphorically and literally.

I’ve always felt revitalized after being in nature, and I know this trip will reconnect me to some things I may have recently lost. Additionally, I’m sure being with nothing but a backpack and one friend will remind me how much I love New York and all the craziness.

If nothing else, I know I just need to remind myself that nothing is permanent: not the feelings I’m having right now, not the place I’ve chosen to live in, not the work I’m doing, or the style in which I keep my hair.

That’s the beautiful thing about life; we have the power to change it at any point. We just have to grow an even bigger set of balls, say fuck it, and take that giant leap of faith that it will all work out.

And the craziest part about all of this is, I’ve already taken leap after leap after leap, and watched my life change in the most magical of ways.

So I guess all that is left to ask is, what am I waiting for? What are you waiting for? What are we waiting for?

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