Taking Care of Yourself Matters

“I have come to believe that caring for myself is not self indulgent. Caring for myself is an act of survival.” – Audre Lorde

Mind, Body, Spirit & Self-love

Self-loathing is no picnic and often not easily recognized by the loather. Hiding my sexuality for the first chapter of my life, marrying a woman, being a way too chunky teenager, having a psychologically abusive mother, being bullied by my peers, and failing at every sport I tried; all added up to a boat load of self-hate. Cornered in a world where a perfect appearance and one’s socioeconomic status was everything, I clawed my way into acceptance (with chewed off nails).

Looking back, questioning how I would make it out of my situation alive, hadn’t occurred to me. It was all about survival and a convincing facade. If I could convince people around me that I was someone they wanted me to be, I could fake my way into their approval.

It wasn’t until I failed miserably at marriage, that I learned I couldn’t keep it up forever. It was coming out of the closet, meeting mentors who genuinely cared about me, and having my best years ahead of me, that led me to believe happiness was possible; is possible.

I need to be clear that I do not believe that my life is any better or worse than anyone else’s. I’m fully aware that we all have troubles and worries, that is the essence of life. It’s all about how you navigate the bumps in the road. Sorry, I’ll be using a lot of metaphors.

The Mind — First you have to convince yourself that you can think on your own. You have to believe that thoughtful decisions lead to positive outcomes. You have to stop lying to yourself. You need to occasionally use your brain. Therapy and meditation helped me here.

Your Body — No self-help book will or can teach you how to love your body. The best thing you can do is accept the body you were born into and work like hell to improve it. I workout six days a week and I enjoy it immensely. I love it because I see upbeat and positive people first thing in the morning and because I know how good it is for my well being. I change up my routine so I don’t become bored. If there is no gym wherever I might be travelling, I walk. I do my best thinking while engaged in a rigorous physical activity. I try to stay off of my phone (texting and emails) I and I listen to interesting podcasts and motivating music.

When I believe there may be something wrong internally, I have it checked out by a doctor. Being fearful of a serious illness will not make it go away; if anything, it will only get worse and lead to something even more serious.

Spiritual Growth — I am not a religious person; however, I do consider myself spiritual; spiritual in the I belief that we are all connected in some way or another. When I say all, I mean all. Humans, other animals, fish, insects, trees, the stars, black holes, cosmic matter . . . all. The collective energy called the universe is an energy that is recycled and reintroduced in order to create energy for future use. Yes, negative energy exists — that is the yin & yang of this vast cycle we are a part of. Nature is the great equalizer here on earth. I know that some days are going to be harder; days where more energy is expended than taken in. Accepting this makes everything just a wee bit easier. Tomorrow may be more difficult or it may be harder, however, I rely on the balance of nature to equalize the flow of energy. I am fairly certain that when I have an opportunity to reflect on my life, I will remember continuous highs and lows that all add up to a life lived. I have the choice to create lasting memories which will hopefully make the not-so-great memories fade into the background — life lessons if you will.

The power of energy has is not fully understood. Working against that power (force) mostly gets you in trouble. More and more, I am teaching myself to move in the same direction, rather than swim against the current. We can learn so much from the flow of the universe. For me, being a spiritual being means listening to nature and those who understand nature. I am enough because I have play a role in keeping the cycle moving (as do you). If I work against that purpose, I am disrupting the natural flow of things. I am choosing a freestyle stroke in a powerful, turbulent river. I’m also fully aware that Kim Kardashian’s existence is not more important or powerful than my own — this goes for everyone else as well.

Loving Yourself — Well then, it stands to reason that if you spend time nurturing your mind, body and spirit, you will learn to love and appreciate yourself. The rewards that come from nurture are plentiful. Pause often in order to practice gratitude. There is good in most things; that which may be challenging, often leads to something good or better. You are right to think that it all sounds hokey and I am nothing more than a snake charmer; however, it is the simplest things in life that seem to provide the most illuminating answers. Life is complex, but if you proceed one step at a time, with thoughtful intentions, you’re less likely to fuck it up.

A Plan

Lately, I find myself choosing a quieter lifestyle. It’s not that I did all of my partying as a young man; I was always an introvert. I have stopped fighting the urge to go to bed early. I love drifting off on my sofa while a good film is playing. I love a good night’s sleep. I love getting out of bed while it’s still dark. I love the quiet of the early morning. . . coffee by my side. I love getting a headstart on the day. I love walking Paco at 5:00 a.m. without a leash. I love getting a lot of heat about this from nearly everyone I know.

What do I mean by “A Plan.” If you have dreams, you can’t just sit around waiting for them to come to fruition. I think grabbing life by the cojones is the way to go. If you fail, you fail. Get back up and try again. Perseverance, grit, desire, and a little bit of luck, will get you across the finish line. The greatest example of this in my life, is my Ph.D. Trust me, it’s not just smarts that gets you that piece of paper. You have to want it so badly that you know in your heart and soul that you cannot and will not settle for less. Most accomplishments take this kind of commitment; anyone who tells you otherwise, is lying.

Don’t look to others to bolster your pride and self-worth; allow it to come from within and celebrate who you are, every chance you get.


Life changes, the world changes, we change. You cannot say to yourself, well I made a big change 10 years ago, so I guess I’m good. Cher is my inspiration, she reinvents herself quite often; it’s the reason she’s still relevant at 76. Jane Fonda and Dr. Fauci are a close second. Role models work for me on many different levels. I hope to re-evaluate my life right up until the day that I die — a death that I do not fear. What I fear is inertia.


I struggle so much with spontaneity. I know from past experience, that if I change things up spur-of-the-moment, I often have a better time than if I stick with the same ol’. Routine is great most days, but sometimes we need a reboot; spontaneity can do that for us. I’m going to practice what I preach today.

Noted Progress

Parceling life up and looking back at decades, makes reflection easier. You have to be older in order to do this, explaining why youth seldom reflect on the past. When you’ve lived more years than you have looking forward, it’s easier to reflect.

What you see when you look back is up to you. Your collective memories are all a part of one huge pool. Bad memories are powerful and work hard being dominant, but you can push back just as hard. Allow the good memories to come to the surface by acknowledging them and celebrating them. My late night dancing days were extremely pleasant. These memories play a prominent role in my past because for me, they symbolize freedom, growth, and experimentation. In some ways, I believe that my identity was shaped on the dance floor. These memories serve to reinforce the good that can come from giving yourself permission to take risks, live in the moment, and feel — not as easy as it sounds. I work hard to peel off the protective armor I started wearing the moment my mother gave birth to me. It serves a purpose yes, however, it can also prevent us from the self-exposure necessary to feel. The deeper the cut, the harder the loss, the greater the healing, the greater the growth. The key is allowing it to happen. Denial, pushing it down, projecting, glossing it over; it eithers prolongs the pain or stops the healing. My scars are a reminder that I have healed. I wear my scars as badges and I take pride in the healing I allowed; knowing that it isn’t always easy to leave the scab alone.

Blog inspired by Lori Owens Kostiuk (click her name for website). Lori is doing some very significant work on the power of art and healing. Take a look.

Upcoming Travel

Between now and March 2023, I have very little planned. My sister and brother-in-law will be visiting from North Carolina in early November and I’m surprising them with an overnight trip to see the incredible Algarve rock formations (my sister has never read and will never read my blog, so she won’t see this; I love her nonetheless). A food & wine trip to Lyon, France with friends in mid-November and a weekend at the Spanish border in December. That’s it until March when I will be traveling to Florida for a week of curated memories; sharing a house with two of my favorite people in the world. Note: no trips added since my last blog and that’s on purpose.

An Alternative Universe

Drapetomania (n.) — An overwhelming urge to run away.

Photo by Pedro Figueras on Pexels.com

There is so much coming at us from every which way, it’s easy to imagine an alternative universe. I’m personally conjuring up a place where people respect one another, where one feels safe at all times, and where good health is more of a given than a wish.

I live in a city that is extremely safe, tranquil, and where COVID-19 is much less of a threat. One would think that I could just sit on my sofa and relish in gratitude; easier said than done I’m afraid. We are all a part of something bigger and greater than ourselves. If you care about your friends and family, your neighbors, your fellow citizens, people starving all over the world, social inequality, fiscal inequality, the planet . . . to name a few, it’s difficult to not be swimming in despair.

A Quiet Place

I learned how to use visual mediation many years ago when I was in college in North Carolina. It was a great tool for coping with peer pressure, term papers, exams, and the lack of funds. As I got older, those life problems were replaced by others such as mounting debt and relationship turmoil. The truth is, there will always be one hardship or another to cope with. Meditation is a life saver at times like this. People don’t realize you can meditate just about anywhere at anytime. Even Alexa can help now.

Allowing your mind to take you to a safe and quiet place is extremely effective. I usually invision water and an absence of people. The beauty of this method is that you have complete control — anytime, anyplace, and any visual you choose. It’s free and easy to call upon; at times it can save you from the worst anxiety producing situations. My alternative universe has become easier to access each time I employ visual meditation. Go on-line and read about various techniques and tools; meditation can become a positive addiction.

A World Only You Inhabit

Our imagination is vast. Children use their imagination quite often and most times to create a world totally unlike the one they inhabit. As we get older and become more serious and sadly, more jaded, our imagination becomes more inhibited and less colorful. Give yourself permission to visit a place in your mind not yet explored or unlocked.

Travel is a great way to escape; leave your environment, leave your head, leave your life. I do it quite often these days and I swear by it. It’s more effective as a way to clear your head when you are committed to it. Unfortunately, I have transported myself to another city or country and found myself even more concerned and vulnerable; you have to be able to turn it off and call upon your inner strength.

I love dreaming at night. Every so often I can recall a dream as I am walking up and less often, I can close my eyes and slip back into it. If you work at it, you can allow your mind to return to that dream while you’re awake during the day (daydreaming). It’s quite a gift, if you will allow yourself the pleasure.

An Altered State of Being

There are natural and synthetic substances that assist you in expanding your imagination. Some of these substances are widely used and accepted and others are more dangerous and often illegal. It is not my intention to promote or speak out against such substances. As with anything in life, the problem is often moderation. Drugs can be additive and destructive; one must be aware of the risk and dangers involved and make an informed decision. Everyone is different in terms of tolerance, genetics, and moral values. I can say that early use of several less harmful drugs did help me to cope with some fairly serious “life” issues (e.g., physical abuse, emotional abuse, and sexual identity). Again, a very personal matter one must carefully consider.

All of the Above

There is rarely one solution to a problem and so it is true for escape and mind relaxation. Whatever it takes to ease the burden of anxiety is probably better for you in the long run. The key is moderation; doing whatever it is you need to do often enough to make a difference, without allowing it to consume you and/or interfere with your “normal” obligations (i.e., work, childcare, partner).


I honestly do not mean to be a downer or morbidly dark; however, the reality that at some point or another, you or I might say that we have had enough, is a possibility and understandable. I am not referring to suicide, another topic altogether.

A few days before my father passed he looked at me and said, “I’ve had enough Chris, I’m ready,” and a feeling of peace washed over us.

And then there is this:

“One of the best ways to get out of your own head is to help others.”

— Zack Efron, Down to Earth

Karma is a Bitch and Other Pleasant Thoughts

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Most people would agree that anger and rage are not the best emotions to hang onto. Laughter, joy, pleasure, empathy, peace, and appreciation are much healthier and will make you happier in the short and long run. How do we get there? What do you do when those dark, negative feelings begin to surface?

Your Belief System

I’m fairly cynical about just about everything. I was taught that it is important to be a critical thinker at all times. However, there is one thing that I truly believe in and there is no proof that it really exists and that thing is:

kar‧ma noun   1 the belief that all the good and bad things that you do in this life affect how good or bad your future lives will be, according to the Hindu and Buddhist religions

2 informal the feeling that you get from a person, place, or action good/bad karma

Yes, I am a true believer. I have this gut feeling that the universe offers us complete balance: the yin and the yang, the peaks and the valleys, positive and negative energy; you get the picture. Realistically, I am aware that some people get away with all sorts of things without ever being held accountable. Perhaps I am wrong about that; perhaps they are somehow at some time, held accountable and we’re just not aware of it.

Belief in karma helps me sleep at night. When I think of politicians committing horrible atrocities, or people physically abusing or killing other people, or stealing, being emotionally harmful, rapists, I usually turn to karma for comfort.

42 Best Karma quotes - Quotes and Hacks

Trusting Your Truth

Whatever you believe is your truth; your truth is your integrity and where your strength comes from. If you waiver from that belief system or cave to someone else’s truth, you lose faith in yourself and your world becomes unsteady.

Distancing Yourself

I have found that confrontation can be unfruitful and/or personally damaging. Unfortunately, there are some people you cannot talk to. They are either so righteous they cannot be objective or they do not have the capacity to listen. The art of listening is lost on so many these days. The ability to clear your brain of all static and just hear another person’s words is extremely rewarding. Try just staying quiet and listening to another person, it truly is amazing.

[Disclaimer: Not true for everyone. Some people just go on and on and say nothing; others only speak to hear themselves speak, and still others speak only to offend others. These individuals should be avoided and shut down.]

Manifesting Positivity

Some ways to remain positive:

  1. When your thoughts begin to turn negative or move in a dark direction, stop whatever you’re doing and focus on a new thought. Not so easy to do when you’re in the middle of a crisis. Come up with some sort of code/buzzword that triggers a new thought. It can also be an action (e.g., going into a different room, cook, make the bed). This is a way to distract your mind from negative thought(s).
  2. Exercise. Releasing endorphins and doing something good for yourself usually helps initiate positive thoughts.
  3. If you can, travel. Getting away from your everyday environment helps put you in a different headspace.
  4. Do good deeds and make big deposits in your karma bank. I don’t mean just monetary donations (these are good too), I mean get out there and do something good.
  5. Meditation is a true gift anytime, but especially times like this. If you have Alexa (Echo) in your home or a similar device, you can just ask her to play meditation music. You can meditate for hours or minutes — your choice. The benefits are difficult to quantify, but trust me, it will help.
  6. Self-help books or articles may often seem trite and a waste of time; however, there are many good ones out there that will offer some good tips. I also find Ted Talks (Youtube) to be informative.
  7. Talk to a good friend or family member. People who care about you want to help, but be careful not to abuse their good naturedness.
  8. Cooking keeps me positive and upbeat; as does a good meal out. I turn on music, pour a glass of wine, set out some fresh ingredients, and create something delicious and healthy. This does wonders for my piece of mind. And . . . I do it for me. You don’t need an excuse to be good to yourself.
Photo by Jermaine Ulinwa on Pexels.com

Your “Go to” Responses

We are creatures of habit and some of our habits are not-so-good for our health and well-being. For example, when I see people do something really stupid, my go-to response is to tell them what I think. A recent thought: Put on your face mask you fucking idiot. The outcome if I follow through: I have found one of two things might happen:

  1. People who do stupid things, usually have a stupid/unreasonable reaction to criticism or feedback.
  2. You often end-up more frustrated and full of rage.

Look the other way or keep your mouth shut. Trust me, you’ll forget all about it in a few minutes and you won’t be taking years off of your life. Ignorant, despicable, horrible people, will not suddenly become educated or wiser because of your words or action. Allow karma to take care of the situation. Another alternative is to do the right thing for yourself and stay away from people or situations that might create problems for you. For example: I’m not sure going to a political rally will yield a positive outcome right now. There will be lots of time for that sort of thing sometime in the future. Staying away from crowds is a better bet.

Recruiting Others to Help

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I have been know to recruit friends and family to help me react in a more positive way or to assist me in letting go. People who love you and want to see you happy will gladly put a hand over your mouth to muzzle you or handcuff you to a coffee table to keep you from overreacting. A good friend will keep you out of jail or the doghouse.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com


Karma: http://www.buddhanet.net/e-learning/karma.htm

7 Tips for Staying Positive: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/wise-mind-living/201501/7-tips-staying-positive

Stay Positive: https://www.mhanational.org/stay-positive

Thank you karma.

The Power of Your Smile

“Always wear a smile because you never know who is watching.” Gracie Gold



I want to smile more. I do. One would think that this would be an easy goal, but trust me, if you’re not inclined to smile, deciding to do so, just like that, is a difficult objective. I was born cynical, but coming up in my world, how could I not be. I also believe this is one of those nature/nurture arguments. Was I cynical because of my genetic makeup or did growing up in a tortured household make me cynical. For the purpose of this piece, let’s call it a draw and say that both factors are the cause. The point is, I have to work at smiling and how do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, practice, practice.

“Love yourself for who you are, and trust me, if you are happy from within, you are the most beautiful person, and your smile is your best asset.” Ileana D’Cruz

Some Ways/Places to Practice Smiling

  • Tell yourself to smile every morning. You can do it when you’re brushing your teeth. It won’t take any more time out of your busy day. Soon it will be as routine as brushing; you won’t even think about it.
  • Add a little caveat to practicing your smile:  make it so that you cannot smile unless you add something you’re grateful for. For example:  this morning, before I brushed my teeth, I thought about how grateful I was that I slept well and then I smiled.
  • Practice while you’re doing something mundane — like when you’re on the treadmill at the gym or while you’re riding in a bus or on the subway.
  •  Look straight into a mirror and keep smiling.
  • Practice with a friend or family member. Let them tell you what they think of your smile and accept the feedback. Is it genuine? Too broad? Too big?


Be Your Own Motivator

I have a friend whom I met at a gym in Portland, Maine. He was struggling on an abdominal machine near where I was working out. He saw me watching him and asked me if I knew how to use the machine. I hopped on and did a few reps (gym lingo for repetitions just to show you how cool I can be). Chomba is from Zambia, he studied in Europe, he’s in his 20s and he’s quite a specimen; naturally I was pleased to show him how to use the machine correctly. Like any normal man, I preened and walked away triumphant. A few days later I saw him using the same machine and he was smiling ear-to-ear. Honestly, Chomba has the most genuine and beautiful smile I have ever seen. I noticed him using the very same machine on a regular basis. I finally approached him and asked him if he used any other equipment at the gym. He shared a big laugh and thanked me for showing him how to use the machine. I said, “Chomba, because I always see you on this ab machine, I am naming it the Chomba Machine.” From then on I when I would see him I would ask if he had done his ab reps on the Chomba machine that day.

Weeks went by of just saying hello in the gym and I thought it was time to become friends outside of Planet Fitness. I approached him and invited him over to my place for dinner. I was having a dinner party and I thought he’d be a great addition to my guest list. Chomba was delighted and came to my place with a nice bottle of wine. Everyone at party fell in love with him. He’s the kind of person who lights up the room and makes everyone feel special. That night I learned that he was a motivator working out of Boston. His firm was hired by companies to motivate their staff (Chomba if I’m getting this all wrong I apologize). What I loved more than anything is that he did not boast about his work or his life. We had to poke and pry before he came clean. Chomba is a modest fella. By the way, Chomba models now and always stays in touch. I’m grateful for his candor, his loyalty and his beautiful smile.

What Chomba has taught me is invaluable. Essentially, you can be your own motivator. You can do what he does, but in your own head. You can get yourself charged-up and energized whenever you feel yourself needing a little boost.



Having been a sociology student in college, I often love to go back to my roots and do human interaction (behavior) experiments. I like to occasionally spend the day smiling all day just to see how people respond to it. I also enjoy seeing if it affects my mood.

I have to say that I get pretty amazing results:

  • People almost always smile back.
  • It sometimes feels like you’re waking someone up and suddenly they seem to come alive.
  • It makes me feel lighter.
  • The results make me want to do it more often.
  • Sometimes it makes strangers laugh; especially when I smile really big. I’m thinking, they must think I’m crazy, but who cares.
  • There is a reason for the saying “A smile goes a long way.”
  • I am in the middle of a very frustrating experience with an upgrade to my apartment. The person responsible for getting the work done has been slacking off and it’s sort of driving me crazy. The project began 14 months ago. I decided to give him an ultimatum knowing that he might walk away from the job. Instead, when I saw him I smiled. It appears that is not what he expected and I believe he may be close to finishing the job. Yesterday, I received a call from a man who will hopefully complete the job this week.


Current Mood

One of the interesting things about blogging is how your mood and thoughts change as you work through a particular thread of thoughts. I woke today in a non-smiling mood. You may relate to what I’m feeling, except that I don’t quite know what I am feeling. What I do know, is that I don’t feel like smiling. I had an interaction yesterday that was troubling and it’s still on my mind. I’m pissed to put it bluntly.

I am going to work through these feelings and thoughts by forcing a smile and see where it takes me . . .

The next day:  the left home for a bed & breakfast about 90 minutes away. Sometimes it helps to be away from your familiar environment. I found myself smiling just as soon as I boarded the train.


Smiling is one of those things you can do to brighten your day and/or someone else’s day, and it cost nothing! Nada! Zip! Zero cents! In fact, studies have shown that it’s good for you too.

The act of smiling activates neural messaging that benefits your health and happiness. … The feel-good neurotransmitters — dopamine, endorphins and serotonin — are all released when a smile flashes across your face as well (4). This not only relaxes your body, but it can also lower your heart rate and blood pressure.Jun 25, 2012


 There’s Magic in Your Smile


Definitely more of a kiss than a smile, but we’re both happy 🙂