Sunday, July 27, 2014

Life is a Balancing Act

Everyday we face a balancing act.  Family, friends, work, hobbies, social activities, keeping our homes, and hopefully our selves clean and sparkly.  Which route to take to get to point B faster, is parking easier over there instead of right here?  Were constantly weighing our options, hoping for the best outcome.

One of the things that I have to pay particularly close attention to is deciding how long can I involve myself in a situation before going bat shit crazy?  At what point do I decide to keep my big fat mouth shut and step away.   Faceboook has become such a detrimental tool for social situations.  Schools are actually teaching children how to interact on Facebook and other social media around the age of 9 or 10.  We continue using these tools to avoid communicating face to face with someone.  How will that help us later in life?  When we are on a job interview or a first date, will we know how to make eye contact?

Social Media is an addiction; we get highs and lows from it, sometimes both within a 10 minute time frame.
Like any other addict we feel like we cant live without it. In the beginning it was a great way to connect with old friends, make plans to get together, share our baby (or other type) of photos, stay connected with family members.  I still cant believe my Aunt Myrna knows how to use the computer, or that Nicole now has an iPad.  But at some point this "tool" started working against us.  We are socializing face to face less, getting in more arguments with people we don't even know.  We don't have to leave the house to know what's going on in the world or in our friends lives.  Its all right here in this little box with a screen.  For many people there is no point in making the effort to shower, get dressed, and leave the house to go meet friends face to face.

Facebook is like high school, in some cases a popularity contest.  A story gets posted and right away there is some one there to remind you... "didnt I say that last week?"   Or how many likes we get for a comment opposing the other persons point of view.  How many people shared my story?  "You know I posted that 2 weeks ago,  I was the first one to post it."  "I need to be the first person to comment" even though we haven't thought out the entire scenario or took into consideration all the facts.

For myself I've learned...OK still learning, when to step away from the computer.   Facebook isnt Thunderdome, its not life or death, there are no right or wrong answers in every situation.  We share our opinions and some people may agree, some may not.  We know this every time we post something.   It's a choice we make, we weigh out the options; is this topic really worth getting my blood pressure up and fighting with people over opinions, or should I just keep it to myself and "know" that my opinion is the only one that matters TO ME.

A couple of years ago there wasnt a therapy session in which I didnt mention Facebook or Twitter and how someone pissed me off.  Now I bite my tongue more, I remove the toxic people entirely (or just hide them if they are friends)  Im open to hearing different points of view and I may even have small debates with someone, but if it starts to get heated I suggest we talk about it later in person.. Well of course if they are a real life friend, if they are someone I have never met then they can just go scratch.

Real life is a balancing act and Social Media is now part of real life, you have to ask yourself.  "Is this the person I want to be portraying in society?  Is this who or how I want to be known as?  Believe me I know first hand what Social Media can do to your personal reputation.  Use it wisely, or maybe use it less.  But don't be that person that everyone says is "crazy" because of a simple story on some random website, or because you don't agree with someone elses views on politics or religion.  Healthy debate is good, name calling, arguing and going for someones jugular (virtually of course) isn't worth it.  There are so many words I have said that I wish I could take back now because I didn't stop and fully think it out first.

Maybe I should start a new Facebook Group Page.   "A kinder Gentler Facebook"  Because this bitch of a website gets on my damn nerves sometimes!!!

Friday, July 25, 2014

The Other Side of the Darkness

Whew, 2 years ago if anyone had told me that today I would be volunteering and pursuing a career in the Mental Health Field I would have thought THEY were out of their mind.

I haven't been able to stop staring at this certificate that reads

Kurt Cunningham
has completed the 8-hour course and is now CERTIFIED in
Mental Health First Aid USA

 It's been a long road from where I was in 2012 to where I am today.  Its still a path I am on, and I continue to grow and accept that sometimes I may have bumps in the road.

 I will never stop learning about mental health, fighting to end stigma, and preventing people of all ages, backgrounds, and beliefs to die from suicide.  People have asked me if I think that I am really the "right person" to be helping others with mental health issues.  HELL YES I AM.  Why?  Because I have experienced these issues first hand.  I am receiving the proper training to handle these issues and incidents, until the proper professional help can take over.

When I worked at AIDS Walk San Diego I wasn't HIV positive but I had been affected by this disease so greatly, yet no one ever asked me what my motivation was for wanting to work very hard for VERY little money.   I believed in the cause.

Mental Health programs have come a long way in the past 50 years, but because people are SLOWLY coming around to understanding these issues there is a greater need than ever before.

Young people in this country are fast becoming a large percentage of our misdiagnosed and ignored segments with the lack of proper mental health programs and medical care.

Watch this segment on 60 Minutes and you'll understand how great the need is for youth programs.

My future is not as uncertain as the young people you see in this video.
How can this be ignored??   I cant ignore it.  I have to so something to help, and I am!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Always Leave On a High Note

I feel the need to further clarify somethings regarding the Turn Your Back on Carl DeMaio during San Diego Pride Parade 2014 "event" this year.

On June 14th via my blog post I completely gave up all rights and concern for the Turn Your Back to DeMaio Facebook page. I handed it over to someone I knew would continue on with the page in the tradition it was crated in.
The "event" this year was solely created by someone I do not know personally and have only recently noticed in our community.

 I have to say I was very disappointed in the organizing and planning of this "event"    Yes I gave up the reigns of this grass roots movement I created in 2012 but there was a major build up to the event, we educated the community on Carl's moves and motivations, we had pre-event press coverage, I also did my research to make sure Carl was even going to be in the parade.  To my knowledge he wasn't even in attendance this year, if he was he was very well hidden.   I'm not a Carl supporter now, but doing something like this just for the sake of doing it is a waste of time and energy.  We made a great impact in 2012 with national news coverage and this year it was a total flop.  The national and international press continues to educate the public about Carl DeMaio,   I appreciate that David Lundin is a watchdog for the community, but I think he has his iron in too many fires.   I can say proudly that we actually achieved something in 2012.   This year this "event" was just embarrassing.  Now with that being said lets move forward  Scott Peters elected in the 52nd district.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

“No one has ever become poor by giving.” ― Anne Frank

Charity, people have different ideas about what or who is worthy of their time, money, experience, etc.
But today I'm focusing on the charitable aspect of giving money.

In the county of San Diego we have hundreds if not thousands of charities.  If you can think of a reason to give I guarantee there is somewhere you can donate your hard earned dollars to.  Children, Elderly, Religion, Health Care, Homeless, LGBT, Veterans, Research, Mental Health, Science, Animals....I could go on all day listing the different types of charitable organizations.

However there is always the question of how much of each dollar goes directly to the needs of the charity vs the administrative costs, employees, etc.  But what about when you hand some spare change to someone homeless on the street?  How much of that goes to food vs drugs or alcohol?  Many homeless people suffer from some type of Mental Illness, so drugs and alcohol for them are just a temporary way of self medicating. Homelessness is an entire blog topic on its own so let me try and stay on track here.

Over the past 2 decades that I have been volunteering for and working at non profit organizations I have seen a vivid picture of what individuals think is important and worth them writing a check.  There are some people that donate large sums of money simply for a tax write off, some that give because they believe in the goal that you are working towards.  I've seen people raise money in many different ways.  Shave their heads, strip, sing, dance, twerk, werk, and just put themselves out there and say I have nothing to offer you, but can you help me to help these other folks in need.  I also may have seen or taken part in someone donating a $100 on an Alaskan bar crawl to reach down a certain persons pants.  But let me get back on track once again, which brings me to my next thought about "giving".

Recently one of my front teeth broke off, I was devastated.  My smile is a HUGE part of me, my personality shines and I am confident, willing to put myself out there.  After seeing that a woman created a Go Fund Me page for a boob job I figured my smile was just as important to me as her boobs were to her.   And it worked, you gave me back my smile.   Ill require much more dental work in the future but for now I am smiling from ear to ear.   Im not sure what it was that made people reach into their wallets and donate to me (not a tax write off).  Not only was I able to replace the tooth but I had raised enough money to "upgrade" to a tooth that is more realistic looking and will consistently match any other teeth that might need replacing in the future.

Yesterday I saw a Facebook friend who I have never met post a funding page for a shed for his home.  There are some very valid reasons behind his decision to ask publicly for help.  Some of which he shared personally with me, some of which he posted in his funding page.  But he is taking a chance that his friends will lend a hand, he is also taking a chance that some people will judge him and say there are people starving in this world and you need a shed?   I know what courage it takes to ask for money for yourself, for something personal.   I have no problem at all asking strangers for money when it comes to a charitable cause or organization.  But when its for something personal?  Well that's much different.  There is a feeling of shame no matter how strong your need is.

I must be the luckiest guy on earth because I have had many friends over the past few years help me with bills, rent, telephone payments, groceries, rides to and from where ever.  Some of these things I have had to ask for and some of these people would just come to me and ask how much is your phone bill?

Shortly I will be receiving a small amount of money from the sale of my fathers cemetery plot I fully intend to PAY IT FORWARD..   Pay it forward, just do it.  Buy a coffee for someone in line behind you at Starbucks, use those 2 for 1 coupons at the fast food joint and give the other to someone in need.  Tip that food server, or anyone else providing a service 50% just once.  If everyone were to pay it forward imagine how many smiles we would see each day.

Here is the link to a page of someone I have never even met who is in need.   Can you pay it forward today?

Home is Where Your Heart Is

“You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.” 
― John Bunyan

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Is it Possible for Something Good to Come From Death???

There is something about seeing someone physically deteriorate before your eyes. that is somewhat life changing.

In the past I've seen people I know slowly deteriorate from AIDS, from drug abuse, Cancer, and I imagine other unknown ailments.  But for whatever reason those didn’t have the same affect on me as what I have experienced in the past two years. The two people I have witnessed die before my eyes were both very very different experiences but both were people I loved.

The first was my mother, we found out she had Cancer and was given 6 months to live, as her illness progressed there were mild signs that turned into larger obstacles with day to day activities.  Until her final night when I was holding her hand as she took her last breath.

The second, and most recent was my friend of many years, Dave.  At first we thought it was just jaundice because he was turning yellow, which turned into orange, and then we found out his liver and kidney were both failing. He went in and out of different facilities, went home for a short time but his illness progressed quickly and beyond the scope of the doctors’ abilities to save his live.

Mom’s death affected me to a point where I thought I couldn’t live without her, and I attempted to end my life.  Mom died of lung cancer.  She was a smoker for many years but for the last 13 years of her life she did not smoke.  The type of cancer she had was not directly attributed to smoking.  She was 74 years old when she died.

Dave’s death has had the opposite impact on me; I've actually wanted to take better care of myself. .  Dave’s illness was something that could have been avoided, something he was warned about by his doctors.  Unfortunately Dave didn't take the advice of his doctors, but I heard them loud and clear.  Dave died at the age of 46 years old.   

Although the changes I’m making are slow, they are also deliberate.   I eat healthier more often, including gross vegetables like broccoli, Brussels sprouts and eggplant, all of which I now find amazingly delicious.  I go walking in the morning.  I have been drinking alcohol a lot less often.  Watching Dave slip away so quickly helped me FINALLY realize how easy it is to fall into bad patterns that can end your life.  I had much worse addictions than Dave, but somehow I was lucky enough to make it through.  I was also by Dave’s bedside when he passed, way too young, way too soon.  That could have just as easily been me.

So last night Dave came to me in a dream, just the same as my mom, grandma, dad, and most everyone else that has passed before me.  The dream didn't make any sense; he wasn’t bringing me any profound words of wisdom.  But it struck a thought in my mind that I scribbled down, which has resulted in this blog post.

So what’s the point I’m trying to make here?  I don’t even know.  Just take care of those close to you, force them to take better care of themselves.  Watching someone you care about taking their last breath is an image that will never escape your mind.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

It's Such a Perfect Day

Ever since I can remember I've been waiting for the perfect life.  The perfect everything .  Everything I do has to be perfect.  Plans for the day, the place where I live, the perfect (for me) boyfriend, the perfect "standing" in my community, the perfect high, the perfect low,  the perfect outfit, my hair, my makeup,  The last three, could apply to both male or female identities.  Anything with my name on it, anything I created HAD to be perfect.  I was always chasing the perfect day.

What is perfect?
  1. 1.
    having all the required or desirable elements, qualities, or characteristics; as good as it is possible to be.
    "she strove to be the perfect wife"
    synonyms:ideal, model,ultimate without fault, faultless, flawless, consummate,
    quintessential, exemplary, best, 

  2. 2.
    absolute; complete (used for emphasis).
    "a perfect stranger"
    synonyms:absolute, complete, total, real, out-and out, thorough, thoroughgoing,downright,   utter, sheer, arrant, unmitigated, unqualified, veritable, in every respect, unalloyed 

  1. But obviously perfection is all based on our own individual perception and and then I learned it is also situational.   Somewhere down the road perfection loosens up a bit.   Your financial situation changes so you cant have the "perfect" clothes...  But these clothes over here work "perfectly well"  most everything seems to change to being "perfectly well".  Then we move on to "good enough"  "Well my hair isn't perfect but its good enough"

  2. Being a perfectionist is one of the worst possible ways to live.  Expectations are high, not only of yourself but of everyone around you.  Imagine the constant disappointment you would encounter each and every day by needing everything to be perfect and not being able to get it.   I wonder if the ultra rich encounter as much disappointment as the every day person does?  When you have everything at your disposal is life easier?  Well I've been in a situation close to that and it SEEMS perfect.  But as I have matured and my life has changed I learned that what I would consider perfect has dramatically changed.

Now, my idea of a perfect life is much different than it was say back in my twenties.  Now, the perfect life (not my perfect multi million dollar Lotto winning life) but just my perfect life would be;

  1. Having a job to go to 5 days a week that I am passionate about (the passion part is non negotiable)
  2. Being able to call or see my mom whenever I wanted
  3. Having a special someone in my life, even part time would be wonderful.
  4. Friends...just the good ones.. a handful or two is plenty
  5. Being inspired.... by movies, music, good books, great art, and good people
  6. Yoga
  7. 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep
  8. Laughing everyday, even at myself.
  9. Having the knowledge that the above list can change at anytime.
  10. oh shoot...i almost forgot animals....especially Mr Kitty
OK, I'll admit I would like to be a little more stylish in my appearance, but that would be helped along by #1

Is that it?  That;s all I need?  That doesn't seem too difficult to me, except # 2  that one is out of my reach.  But at this point in my life all of those other things listed seem very obtainable. Nine months ago I didnt even care about having anything on that list, sometimes I didn't even care about talking to Mom.  I thought nothing good was going to happen for me.  Many of the things on my list haven't happened (yet) but now I realize it is possible.  

and THAT is perfect!

Oh, it's such a perfect day
I'm glad I spent it with youOh, such a perfect dayYou just keep me hanging onYou just keep me hanging on

Dave's Photo Book Made for his Father and Friends

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