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Real Talk.

I’m ready to check in with some writings of value or importance to me.

A friend and I were discussing how the world as of late can weigh you down, especially during tumultuous times such as the recent US election season and inauguration. It’s easy to become swept up in the huge amounts of negativity that seems to be everywhere. I suggested a simple meditation, a loose form of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or “brain retraining.” He remarked he hasn’t the time or money to make this happen. I remarked it cost me no time and $0. Here’s what I said.

I started with small steps… paying attention to what I was thinking and how I tended to react to things. I placed a large focus on keeping unforeseen events and feelings in perspective and organizing them based on real, not perceived, importance. I started cutting out all the extra bullshit from my life.

Once I cut out the distractions, I could concentrate by focusing and meditating (thinking about, relaxing) on what truly matters to me and the person I want to be.

Here is an example:

OK, I am in bad traffic and I am running late for a class (or work or whatever). Instead of my old reaction of some sort of road rage, I tried putting on music or podcasts I liked, breathed deeply, realized others around me were going through the same shit, and tried to think about something positive.

So, let’s plan. What are the consequences of being late? Don’t jump to the worst possible outcome because being locked out of the class and publicly ridiculed will likely not happen today. What is the true, realistic outcome? Being late to class means it will be embarrassing for one class session because I have to walk in late, and quietly shut the door. No one else will remember this in a day. Nobody else cares about someone walking in late. I know I wouldn’t care or judge. Everyone has different things going on in their lives.

And lastly, how can I not be late next time? Let’s be realistic: Being late was nobody’s fault but my own. I have to take responsibility for not sticking to my schedule; acknowledging it is my fault is confirming that I know I have control to change it. If I blame someone else for my problem of being late, I cannot change their actions (only my own), and thus take this mindset of helplessness. Nobody benefits from feeling helpless.

I started small with things like this traffic example, then applied it to other scenarios. Eventually, over time, I changed my entire personality simply by reframing how I reacted to challenges. I became less jaded and angry, depressive bouts disappeared, and my personal resilience increased. I can handle just about anything! So it’s actually a retraining of your brain, in a way. Your immediate reactions change, if you let it. I used to get angry very quickly and hold petty grudges. I no longer get angry and never hold grudges. It is freedom and release to reclaim the power OVER you (outside actions) and changing it to YOUR power (how you let it affect you). And the best part? It costs $0.

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Take a Napa & Go to Napa.

PEN&INK. You know, writing is always in the back of my mind. Updating. How could it not be? I’ve been doing it seventeen years. Most of my life. I like to write to explain things. I like to write to understand things. I like to write to have a chronicle of life. “What did I do in 2004? What did I feel? What did I learn?” and I can pull up a digital index of everything. Things I’ve forgotten. Things I maybe wanted to forget, and had… but my digital brain doesn’t forget.

So I am updating when I can, when I want to. So many good things are happening all at once; or maybe my outlook has changed on how I approach everything that happens. I think it’s the latter. I guess most people can recreate the years with a Facebook page, or a Twitter feed. That’s fine, but very limited… you physically can’t type more than 140 characters at a time on Twitter: fragmented thoughts. And who has ultimate control over a Facebook or Twitter? I am proud to own my writings in my own online space and archives.

Pfft, let’s be real. Haven’t updated lately because of Witcher 3 & a replay of Dragon Age: Inquisition. It happens.


Geralt, you magnificent bastard.

MSCP & SANFRAN. Get this: I’m six months into my Masters of Science in Counseling Psychology. When did that happen? I also went to San Francisco last month to attend the Couples Conference, a professional conference for those practicing counseling or psychology. It was also a thinly-veiled excuse to get over to the West Coast and tour Napa Valley. Which we did. Highlights of the trip include a really lovely wine-tasting and tour at ZD Wines, and lunch at Auberge du Soleil. We stayed at the historic Ledson Hotel while in Napa, right in the heart of downtown Sonoma. We spent a few days in San Francisco while I attended the conference, and also hoofed it around the city. FitBit says 20,000+ steps and 90+ floors climbed & I believe it. Good thing I wore a fancy jacket to dinner at Gary Danko so you couldn’t see my armpit sweat stains after a 45-minute hike.

The counseling conference was pretty stellar. Many different workshops and speakers were offered… and because it was San Francisco, it ranged from “Crystals & Auras” to actual Neuroscience. Most of the attendees were older and looked like this. That’s from Meet the Fockers for the uninitiated. They were even selling those kinds of clothes there. I thought I was smart and looked smart in my Hillary-esque pant suit, but I kinda stuck out. Anyway, Esther Perel regulated on modern relationships and not expecting your partner to fulfill every role in your life. Preach. Anyway, it was enlightening to see a West Coast Party. Bet the East Coast Party would include information on Freud, prescribing Dyziplen, and how to embrace being miserable. I jest. I think.

When this masters brouhaha is all said and done, I’m probably going to round robin right into the VA or on-base mental health clinics. B-52 Radar Navigator… instant rapport. I know how the military works, I know what it can put families through, and I know how to sift the story from the chaff. I had a hard time relating to the mental health clinic I went to before my first deployment: The clinician looked no older than 24. What did she know about deployments, or what I was experiencing? She went to college, got her masters, and here she is. What experiences has she had? I was so angry and frustrated that she couldn’t possibly understand. Now I know how to help. Frame that Honorable Discharge on the wall and we good.

ROTARY. I’ve joined my local Rotary Club; I think I’m the youngest member. No shame. It’s a small club, rather than the large Shreveport one. I figure I can make more of a difference and develop closer friends in a smaller club for the time I have left here… about two years (until I finish my degree and can leave this area). Anyway, I noticed the web site needs an update (very circa 2002), and there were no social outlets besides a Facebook that isn’t updated regularly. So, naturally, I took over the social media job. I made a Twitter and Instagram, and the Facebook is connected in to receive updates. Take that, Millenials… I do know how to use Twitter! But I still don’t see the point besides news agencies to distribute news fast. Oh well. We are in the game now.

I am still disappointing my piano teacher, but it’s always great fun going to lessons. Still visiting my elderly friends each Saturday, too. I had an idea to maybe do something like “painting with a twist,” but with a patriotic eagle or something. I asked one of the residents if they would enjoy a painting workshop and she said no. Welp, there’s that. Lastly, I baked “Lavender Honey Cupcakes with Lemon Buttercream Icing” from this hippie dippy book Larry bought. I almost followed the recipe but I got bored and improvised. My birthday is tomorrow and I’m gonna be 31. Eating this cupcake.

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Stay Strong.

PRIDE. My thoughts are with those affected by the act of terror in Orlando at the Pulse club. I was a proud member and supporter of the LGBT community during my years in Orlando and these people were my family; I remember this night club was a diverse place for everyone to feel safe and accepted. I know this amazing, dynamic community will become stronger and closer than ever as a result of this difficult time.