Investing in the New Year

Well, 2013 is gone and 2014 is here! I hope that everyone is already having a great new year. My new year has already started off much better than the last. I remember bringing in 2013 by myself watching the ball drop in Time Square on television, as my partner, Daniel, was sleeping because he had to work super early at the hospital on New Years Day. There may have been tears even, but no use in looking back, right? This year, however, my partner, Daniel, and I both had off New Years Eve and Day, so we went to a friend’s house for a New Years Party to bid farewell to the past year and welcome the new one. Afterwards, we stopped at a couple local bars to further the celebration and were back home and in bed soon after. It was a night spent with friends and festivities and definitely has set the stage for a great year!

Happy New Year 2014 from the D's

Happy New Year 2014 from the D’s

Today, we got up early and I fixed us some breakfast before working out and cleaning out our closet and dresser with all of the clothes we have worn little to not at all this year. We donated the clothes to Goodwill and went to a late lunch with Uncle Grant at The Colonnade Restaurant. Despite the long wait, we enjoyed a delicious Southern meal that included cornbread, pork, collards, and black-eyed peas so that we might have good luck and wealth this year. At the New Years Party, we actually read our horoscopes for the year and made wishes while releasing Chinese lanterns into the night sky. Here’s to hoping for a prosperous, lucky, and healthy new year for us all!

Although I would love to not give a fuck in 2014, I simply do give a fuck and my biggest goal for this year is to invest. I want to invest in me, my relationships, and my personal and professional life goals. I want to also invest in each moment as fully and authentically as possible. I want to invest in the human capital of myself and those around me to work towards becoming the best versions of ourselves, however we define and understand what those versions are. Investing means giving my time, energy, and resources towards life in meaningful and purposeful ways. It means staying healthy, giving of my talents and strengths, and always continuing to learn and challenge myself. It means remembering my purpose and working towards it every day. Robin Sharma wrote, “investing in yourself is the best investment you will ever make… it will not only improve your life, it will improve the lives of all those around you.” So, this year, I plan to invest. First, in me, second, in others, and third, in the moment. Every moment that I can. May 2014 be my year of investing!

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Looking Back and Looking Forward

“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language and next year’s words await another voice.” -T.S. Eliot

Out with 2013 and in with 2014! To quote one of my favorite musicals, RENT, “I can’t believe a year went by so fast.” I remember that this time last year I was in a funk. I was NOT looking forward to 2013. I was basically dreading it. As a pretty goal oriented person, I did not have a lot of goals for the year because in 2012 I finally accomplished my biggest educational goal of obtaining my doctorate. How could 2013 compete with that?

Well, as I soon found out, 2013 was still a great year and I learned that each year holds it’s own potential to be great if you allow yourself to be open to it. In 2013, I got a pretty big promotion (and raise!) to Assistant Dean of Students, moved into a new Campus Center with a new office, and got to help build and work along aside an outstanding group of people. I also gave my first (paid!) keynote address, presented at several conferences, and even got an article published! Outside of my professional work, I started eating better and getting more serious about staying healthy. As a result, I lost over 15 pounds and ran my first 10k with Daniel. I could not have imagined doing that before the year began, but so thrilled that I look and feel better than ever! I also went to Pensacola Beach, FL for memorial day, visited Charleston, SC with two of my best friends, Clifton and JP, and even went on my first cruise to the Bahamas with my family this year. Just this past week, I traveled the Midwest with Daniel to visit family and friends for the holidays. Looking back, I really can say that 2013 was hardly a year that I should have dreaded and truly grateful for what a great year it has been!

As for 2014, it is shaping up to also be a great year! I am looking forward to going on another cruise with my family to Jamaica in February, presenting at two conferences in February and March, completing at least one article and starting a couple others, taking the last class I need to complete a graduate certificate in qualitative research, and celebrating Daniel’s huge accomplishment of finishing nursing school in May and becoming a Registered Nurse this summer. I want to continue to eat right, stay healthy, and work towards my life goals this year (as well as consider these resolutions). I want to also start reflectively writing more through this blog (perhaps using daily prompts like these) and continuing to find ways for self-improvement (like life coaching). I am sure that this year will hold many other opportunities to travel, learn, and grow and I am really looking forward to what the year has in store for me, my family, and my friends.

Now, your turn, what are you looking forward to in 2014? Love to hear your goals and resolutions for the new year!

“Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Investing in Right Now

I grew up always looking into the future. Always. Day and night dreaming. Of what tomorrow had in store for me. I think (wonder if?) growing up gay in rural Arkansas necessitated being future-oriented as a coping mechanism of the world around me. I was always thinking about (a better?) life after high school, filled with college, career, partner, and, and, and. In many ways, I felt like secondary education was a waiting period for when life really was going to begin for me. And, in many ways, it was. From college until today, I have felt freer to be myself than ever before and many of my life goals have been or are being realized, yet my gaze still focuses on the future, rather than right now.

I find myself spending too much time and energy on considering, no fixating on what will be my next big move–another city, another job, another car, another something. I spend all this time dreaming about the what if’s instead of appreciating the right now’s. I lose out on the opportunities to enjoy what I have in this moment–moments that are the direct result of all the moments leading up to this moment, not the moments yet to come. Instead of always dreaming about the future, I need to invest fully in today, in what I have, and who I share my life with. It is for this reason that I think my new year’s resolution for next year (right now!) will be: Investing More in Twenty One Four!

I want to spend more effort in truly living the life I have worked so hard to get and appreciating the joy that my life has to offer in every moment, not just the future. I want to invest in myself (mind, body, and spirit), my partner (mind, body, and spirit), my pets, my home, my work, and my life. Giving myself permission to enjoy my life, my relationships, and myself without disregard for tomorrow, but with authentic appreciation for how things are today. And, I suppose, there really is no better time to start investing more in my life as it is right now than today!

I was searching for some advice on “living in the moment” and I stumbled upon Jason Mraz’s song Living in the Moment that pretty much sums it up. I also cannot help but think about No Day But Today from the musical RENT, so I posted that below too (sang by the amazing Idina Menzel). Enjoy living in the moment and appreciating no day but today!

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Weekly Pug Pic

Putting Safety First - Cooper All Buckled Up!

Putting Safety First – Cooper All Buckled Up!

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Rain or Shine: No Matter What We’re Camping!

What were we thinking? Maybe that was the problem… we really weren’t!

My friends, Chris and Drew, and Daniel and I decided a week or so ago that we wanted to get away from the city and go camping for the Fourth of July weekend. A week or so ago that was a good idea, but looking at the projected weather for this weekend it did not look quite as good. You can see Friday’s weather for yourself below!

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Against our better judgement, though, we decided to still go to Lake Lanier and stay at Shoal Creek Campgrounds. At first, we were just going to drive up there and check out the site to see if the weather was good enough to set-up. Two days later and more rain that I care to remember, we did more than just “check out” the site… we truly experienced it!

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From grilling out to playing 20 questions under umbrellas in the rain, we managed to make the most of it and still enjoy a wonderful time together. We brought one of our pugs, Cooper, with us for his first camping trip and, for the most part, he really had a great time getting to roam around off his leash, swim in the water, and playing with everyone. On Saturday, we even got to spend the entire afternoon on the lake at Gay Cove, which was surprisingly busy for a rainy holiday weekend. There were a fair amount of boats and people there to make for a fun afternoon of meeting new people and swimming in the water, which Cooper did to the point that he wore his little self out. We also all noticed the floating memorial of flowers in the water for a man who had died from drowning recently at the cove (in memory of Lindy James Murdock), which reminded us all of the importance of safety for ourselves and one another. We stayed at the cove for several hours before making the trip back to our campsite to have dinner and rest up.

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Having sustained two pretty bad storms both nights, we all woke up early this morning and immediately packed up to head home. It was funny that literally all of us had the same idea! By 8:30 a.m., we were all packed and on the road back to Atlanta. Although I am so glad we got to spend a weekend away with friends (and cannot say enough about how important and precious time together like this is!), I definitely am glad to be back home, showered, and enjoying the luxuries of having electricity and running water again. As Daniel said on our drive home, “that does it for camping for me for at least another year!” Until the next time (or year!)… happy camping, y’all!

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Running With a Purpose

Daniel, Daniel, & Danny @ the Peachtree Road Race 2013

Daniel, Daniel, & Danny @ the Peachtree Road Race 2013. This was the BEFORE photo!

I am NOT a runner.

And I have never confessed to being one.

However, this Fourth of July, I definitely WAS a runner!

Daniel and I, accompanied by our friend Daniel (which we affectionately referred to ourselves as the Triple D’s or D-cubed, depending on our audience), participated in my second Peachtree Road Race and we actually ran the entire 10k (6.2 miles!).

No walking (like last year!).
No stopping (like last year).
Just running (NOT like last year).

From the start line to the finish line, we kept on running. Neither Daniel or myself had any real expectations of running the entire race, so we were both amazed that we did. Daniel had ran on-and-off for about a week and a half preparing for the race, while I had ran once a few miles a week or so earlier. We definitely had not been preparing for the race like we should, so the achievement is that much more incredible to us. For the past few months, I had worked pretty diligently on losing weight and getting back in shape (result: I lost over 20 pounds!), so I think that really helped me be able to run such a distance without as much preparation.

At just over an 11 minute and 30 second pace for a time of just under 1 hour and 12 minutes, we totally surprised ourselves and surpassed our expectations, though. I cannot thank both Daniel’s enough for all of their support and motivation throughout the race. We really kept cheering each other on! At mile 5, I even got so overwhelmed in the moment that I started tearing up. It was truly unlike anything I had ever felt. I am also incredibly thankful for all of the cheering supporters who kept pushing us forward. I am already looking forward to next year’s race!

Daniel, Daniel, & Danny @ the Peachtree Road Race 2013.  This was the AFTER photo!

Daniel, Daniel, & Danny @ the Peachtree Road Race 2013. This was the AFTER photo!

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The Achiever

Enneagram

In Brief: Threes (Achievers) are self-assured, attractive, and charming. Ambitious, competent, and energetic, they can also be status-conscious and highly driven for advancement. They are diplomatic and poised, but can also be overly concerned with their image and what others think of them. They typically have problems with workaholism and competitiveness. At their Best: self-accepting, authentic, everything they seem to be—role models who inspire others.

Basic Fear: Of being worthless
Basic Desire: To feel valuable and worthwhile
Key Motivations: Want to be affirmed, to distinguish themselves from others, to have attention, to be admired, and to impress others.

Examples: Augustus Caesar, Emperor Constantine, Bill Clinton, Tony Blair, Prince William, Condoleeza Rice, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Carl Lewis, Muhammed Ali, John Edwards, Mitt Romney, Bill Wilson (AA Founder), Andy Warhol, Truman Capote, Werner Erhard, Oprah Winfrey, Deepak Chopra, Tony Robbins, Bernie Madoff, Bryant Gumbel, Michael Jordan, O.J. Simpson, Tiger Woods, Lance Armstrong, Elvis Presley, Paul McCartney, Madonna, Sting, Whitney Houston, Jon Bon Jovi, Lady Gaga, Taylor Swift, Justin Bieber, Brooke Shields, Cindy Crawford, Tom Cruise, Barbra Streisand, Ben Kingsley, Jamie Foxx, Richard Gere, Ken Watanake, Will Smith, Courteney Cox, Demi Moore, Kevin Spacey, Reese Witherspoon, Anne Hathaway, Chef Daniel Boulud, Dick Clark, Ryan Seacrest, Cat Deeley, Mad Men’s “Don Draper,” Glee’s “Rachel Berry”

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Things That Matter

It is a rainy day today, which is fitting for the mood I am in. I have spent most of the day laying in bed watching Oprah and wrestling with life’s (big) questions. The theme of today’s Oprah show is “things that matter” and it has left me thinking about the many things in my life that matter to me. From my partner to my career, things that are in my life that are important motivate me to get out of bed each day. Often in interviews, I will ask the question of “what motivates you to face the day?” And, for me, it is the things that mater to me. The people, the places, and the things that matter really do inspire me to be a better person and face what the day has in store for me. Sometimes, I might forget to remember those important things in my life and go off course, but life has a way of redirecting us towards what matters most and it is important to allow ourselves to lean towards those. I certainly know that the things that matter in my life are the most precious, special, and important aspects of my life. Today was a reminder to me to not fret the small stuff and, instead, focus on the things that really matter.

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Moving from Invincible to Invisible?

Tonight was, for the most part, a total blast. Before I get there, though, I have to admit that getting home from a long night and blogging seems a bit out of my ordinary routine, but we will see how this goes. I apologize in advance if none of this makes sense, but I do hope that some of my points are heard because tonight was quite educational. Earlier today, I stayed pretty busy with errands around the city, including picking up dry cleaning and stopping by the bank, as well as having a quick bite to eat with Daniel on his lunch break. The latter part of the afternoon I worked on some work and a presentation I have to give in a little over a week, all the while doing laundry and picking up around the condo. I was busy, to say the least. I had the pugs fed and dinner almost ready when Daniel got home, so all that was left to do was get ready for the night ahead. We had plans to attend a friend’s Pre-Pride Party and needed to get ourselves dolled up for the occasion.

An hour or so after the party started, we arrived. As expected, we were still on the early side of those who ended up coming. Daniel could not stay long because he works early in the morning, but I stayed behind with my friends to enjoy the party and go out afterwards. After Daniel left, I was there on my own and had to make small talk with a lot of people I do not know that well. Thankfully, my friend Jason was there to keep me company, but part of me worried that I was staying around him too much. I am the partnered one, after all, and hopefully he did not need more alone time to socialize without me. Although I am quite the social butterfly in most settings, tonight sort of made me feel more aware of my status as a partnered, in my thirties, educated, have-not-seen-the-gym-in-many-months guy who was there. I fought the feelings and did my best to say hello to those I knew and introduce myself to those I did not, but not enough jello shots or drinks seemed to shake the feelings I was having. Although tonight felt different, I definitely have felt these feelings before and I wonder if this is just all a part of getting older? In your twenties you feel invincible, whereas in your thirties you start to feel invisible. Just typing that scares me, so hopefully I am off base in my thinking and with time I will realize that with age comes wisdom beyond my years.

Speaking of my years, at the bar we all ended up at after my friend’s party I was approached by a guy who knew some of my friends and introduced himself to me. Friendly, attractive, and chatty, we struck up conversation that lead to him guessing my age. Really, I thought, do you actually need to do that? Although he did guess my age below how old I actually am, I thought to myself that there comes a point when guessing someone else’s age really is not ok, even if prompted. I think we all hope that we still look as young as possible and hearing any age around our age only confirms how much we have aged since then. Hearing I look 26, 28, or older only makes me feel old, not young. Or, even worse, having my age guessed higher than my partner who is older than me only further rubs salt in the wound. Of course, I always say thank you when told an age below my current age, but honestly I cannot help but think how much I need to start working out more, looking into Botox, and reading more about beauty and fashion to make myself look younger. I think tonight was a reminder that I do not look 18, 20, or even 22 anymore and either I need to accept that, or start looking for ways to change it. At the present, I know accepting it has been my goal, but starting to change it might be my next goal. We shall see!

If not being perceived young was not enough, being short is a totally different beast. When you are in a club, being short makes it that much harder to get a drink, get noticed, and not get bumped into on the dance floor. I cannot begin to count how many times I was elbowed or otherwise hit while maneuvering through the club and on the dance floor tonight. It really is a tall man’s world and tonight I definitely did not feel very tall. Although I was hit a few times here and there, I also had another interesting thought as I walked out of the club talking with Jason. We were discussing a couple of guys we know who have a lot going for them–from looks to good jobs–and yet they seem like total messes, especially when it comes to doing recreational activities. As I began to talk about this, I came to the realization that both of these guys we were discussing have good jobs and make good money. This made me think about how often success in the gay world is measured by your body and your bank account, which often equates to what parties you go to and what other activities you engage in. I wonder if there is a correlation between socioeconomic status and recreational activities within the gay community, because it seems from my perspective that some of the guys with high paying careers often participate in some of the riskiest behaviors and activities. I am sure this is not only applicable to gay men, but in considering several that I saw tonight it was not hard to draw that conclusion. Maybe I am wrong, or maybe I am right, but either way, if upward mobility equals downward spiral, then please keep me making a modest living. I simply cannot and do not want to end up focused only on the next party, the next high, and the next thrill. I know there is more to life and I want to live to experience it all!

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Telling It Like It Is

Whoever said getting a flu shot was a good idea, lied. I have been feeling sick for two days as a result and just now starting to come out of it. Daniel only gets off one Friday every two weeks and today (Friday) was the start to my four day weekend for my college’s fall break. Why, oh why, do I have to be feeling so under the weather, I have to ask? Daniel had planned a romantic day in the Georgia, Blue Ridge mountains and I was so close to not going because of how awful I was feeling. Against my better judgement, but taking advantage of spending a day with Daniel and the pugs, I went to the mountains. Despite experiencing flu-like symptoms, I honestly had a wonderful day with Daniel and the pugs, Ebony and Cooper. We hiked, we shopped, and we spent a beautiful day together that certainly was more enjoyable and exciting than staying in bed looking at the ceiling. I spent the entire way there and back sleeping, though, and when we got home I went directly back to bed. As a result of all of this sleeping, I am now not tired or sleepy. Fortunately for you all, though, I did get inspired to do something that is possible from the comfort of the couch–you guessed it, blog!

I cannot take all of the credit for this sudden blogging inspiration, though. I was wasting time on Facebook and noticed a post about a new Logo show called Hunting Season. Clicking on it, I really did not have high hopes for what it might entail but I was interested in seeing what all the chatter was about. Having watched a couple episodes now, though, I must admit I am totally hooked. I actually believe I used to read the blog that the show is based on some years ago. Although the show somewhat reminds me of a mixture between Sex and the City and Queer as Folk, I did like the premise of the show centered around one character who anonymously blogs about his everyday experiences. Although I have never been one to blog without my name or details about who I am attached to the entries, the blogging experience resonates with me. From watching the show, though, it made me wonder if I actually blogged without my name attached would I be more honest, would I share more stories, or would it simply be the same? I would like to think my blog would be more of the latter, but in reality I think that even when I was in college and blogged much more frequently and about more personal subjects, I always kept a distance from certain experiences and opinions for the risk of what others might think or do with such information. As freeing and exciting as keeping such an uninhibited blog might be, the risks have always simply outweighed the fantasy. Despite my blogging be a “tell all,” I have always enjoyed reflectively documenting my life to share with others and this show reminded me just how much. Who knows, maybe someday my blog might be turned into a book or, better yet, a television show or movie? If that ever happened, I wonder who they would get to play me?

Since starting this blog entry, Cooper, the pug puppy, has already had two accidents I have had to clean up and is now cuddled up in my lap. As much as I love this little guy, he really is such a mess sometimes. Tomorrow morning, I am taking both of the pugs with me to Piedmont Park for the monthly Atlanta Pug Meetup Group. I am really looking forward to meeting a bunch of other pugs and pug owners. It will certainly be a fun time and I know Ebony and Cooper will get a kick out of it. I read on their invite that Halloween costumes are highly encouraged, which I know we have some for Ebony, but this is Cooper’s first Halloween so we will need to get him an outfit. Speaking of costumes, I have not given much thought to what I am going to go as for Halloween this year. Last year, I went as a My Buddy, or if you crossed me I could quickly turn into Chucky, but this year I am not certain what I will go as. I joked a few times recently that I wanted to go as Honey Boo Boo and dress Cooper up as Glitzy the Pig, but I am not completely sure how I would go about doing that. I still have a few weeks to figure it out, but it will be here before we know it. This month is filled with events, too, so it should fly by. I will be presenting at a conference in just over a week, attending various events for Atlanta Pride, and then celebrating the scary and spooky for Halloween. Although a busy month, it will be a good one!

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