Ain’t no party like a doughnut party, cause a doughnut party don’t (but probably should) stop.

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Let it be known, this post was almost titled, “When the doctor tells you you’re obese…”

Of course, coming off my, “Yes ogre,” post, I felt like it might be a bit aggressive to continue harassing myself with such strong speak (“Celebrate Every Body,” and all of that). But, yes. My doctor did tell me I was obese. Or, am obese, for that matter. And immediately after, all I could think was, Good thing he doesn’t know about all the doughnuts I consume on a weekly…er, daily, basis. Needless to say, I was instantly defensive following this exchange.

“But, I’m big-boned,” I argued.

He wasn’t having it.

“I have strong thighs and calves.”

“I hold a lot of water-weight.”

“Did I tell you I’m big-boned?”

“But food gets the most likes on my Instagram!”

“The doughnuts aren’t going to eat themselves!”

As a general FYI, “A doughnut a day keeps the doctor away,” is not actually a real thing.

Let’s pause here for a moment.

You should know, doughnuts are much more than just a sweet treat I like to parade on my Instagram. I grew up on doughnuts. I love doughnuts. I am one with doughnuts.

Aside from the step team I was on in my youth group, one of my more profound memories from the church where I grew up is what we called, “Fellowship Sunday.” On the third Sunday of every month, my church would turn our Fellowship Hall into a doughnut-smorgasbord. It was magical, and there were 5-10 tables covered in various kinds of doughnuts every single month. And the best part: I had no limit. I could eat as many doughnuts as I wanted on Fellowship Sunday.

And I usually did.

Long after my Fellowship Sunday sugar-highs, doughnuts have remained a big part of my life. I should also add, nowadays, not a week goes by without someone sending me some type of doughnut correspondence (found in the form of screen shots, doughnut shop highlights, doughnut paraphernalia, and the list goes on and on). I even had a friend pick me up from the airport once, and greeted me with a sign that, at first glance, appeared to read, “HEY MICHAEL, I HAVE DONUTS” (the word, “DON’T” was placed in tiny font between “I” and “HAVE” – she had jokes, apparently)!

This is not uncommon. And aside from my own doughnut-shenanigans, I kind of love the adventures I get to go on via social media and text (mine, and others’).

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When not my own doughnuts, I can always respect the doughnuts of others. And if Instagram tells you anything, it’s that my timeline will become immediately less appealing if doughnuts are no longer part of my weekly (daily) repertoire (or any kind of food, for that matter).

Let’s go back a few weeks to when my doctor called me, “obese.” Honoring my mother’s advice to a weight-struggling teenager (me), you can’t completely eliminate treats and sweets from your diet and remain happy. “Moderation,” she’d argue. And she was (is) right. Let’s be honest, there is a big difference between one doughnut per week and three doughnuts per day (I warned you, I’m a monster).

And my doctor is right, too. 

According to the Body Mass Index (BMI), I am actually around 50 lbs overweight.

Pause.

I know what you’re going to say – please save the, “But Michael, I’m a doctor [or medical student or nurse or someone who actively trolls WebMD].” The BMI is a product of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (or, “CDC,” as we call it on the street). These folks set the standard for nutrition, physical activity, and obesity. I understand your nutrition professor or life coach may have told you otherwise, but until this changes, doctors across America and insurance companies examining folks for the 40-year old price-break will continue to use this as a benchmark.

And, I’ll even half agree with you regarding the BMI BS – I really am big-boned.

Even while navigating my own issues with food, I was still very much like, eat whatever you want, live in whatever body you want, do you, be you, blah blah blah. But the truth is, you can’t actually eat whatever you want – without repercussions, of course. And through all my big-bone’edness, I, too, can’t eat whatever I want – and this goes well-beyond body image. I’m talking about health.

There are many truths in a commitment to living a bit more cautious with food. I love my daily doughnut(s), however as I am getting older, my body is starting to remind me that those little nuggets of joy aren’t what they use to be for me. I’m no nutritionist or life coach, but I know enough to understand that several doughnuts per day (even if they are my favorite food) is not the wisest decision – and on top of already living with a pretty unbalanced meal plan.

“Live your own life.”

“Celebrate every body.”

“Every body is different.”

“Let Michael have the doughnuts!”

“Go nuts for doughnuts!”

“Doughnut power!”

I appreciate your concern, but I’m cutting back. I have to be more responsible. And if I want to live a healthy and active (and long) life, I need to make some cuts as I draw closer to the one-month window of my 30th Birthday. This means no more calling myself, “Shrek.” And it means continuing to understand myself and my inner-workings (specifically, how to be more in-sync with a healthy body and healthy mind). We all have to be a bit more responsible.

And as one really important person in my life says, we have be kind to ourselves.

And this includes being kind to your body.

Doughnut-dreaming,

Michael

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Mt. Wanderlust

Books in China

I have a really good friend who is in somewhat of a life-funk. This friend is incredibly passionate and creative, but lacks professional support in their current life endeavor. More specifically, this person’s talents are somewhat going to waste as a result of a poor supervisor and a toxic work space. And the saddest part of it all, is that this friend knows they are missing out. And this friend knows they are not maximizing their full set of skills and capsules of energy. This friend knows they are sitting on a ticking time-bomb of life-unhappiness and resentment.

And I was thankful this friend reached out to me.

After going back and forth for about an hour, I finally asked my friend, “What is it that you ultimately want?” My friend’s response was raw and vulnerable.

“That’s the problem, I don’t know what I want.”

Of course, I would argue, this friend is not alone.

Their response provoked light bulbs and explosions in my head, and I instantly started swimming in reflection related to similar conversations I have had with other friends and colleagues over the past few months. How do we know what we want if we don’t know what it is that we want? Will we know what it looks like when it nears? Will our name be stamped on it like a present?

Let’s pause here for a moment.

When I lived in China this past fall, there was a day when I was incredibly hung up on a specific something. Now, in all honesty, I have no clue what that something was, and, in fact, it pains me that I can’t remember. Either way, this certain hang-up over that one specific something was haunting me that day. In the midst of my struggle (“the struggle is (or, was) real,” and all of that), an individual who I previously valued as a personal and professional life guide could tell I was having none of it (whatever, “it,” actually was, of course). Without hesitation and with a bit of aggression, this individual looked at me and said, “Michael, you don’t know what you don’t know.”

Let’s let that set for a moment:

You don’t know what you don’t know.

Imagine the meltdown that ensued following this declaration. It was both bitter and sweet, and has stuck with me like glitter on glue since the words left his mouth. You don’t know what you don’t know. It still gives me chills.

For those who know me well, it comes to no surprise to you when I note that I severely dislike surprises (“severely,” is an understatement). And more so, I really don’t like not having a plan. Structure is essential for me, and processing a thought like, You don’t know what you don’t know, is haunting, to say the least. And finally, I’ll admit, I have a hang-up about the unknown. While I thrive on adventure and newness, I like the control involved in knowing. So, when one throws a proverbial wrench into my brain related to not knowing x2, it sticks to me.

Last summer, I went back to Midwest City, Oklahoma to celebrate my 10-years-ago-we-graduated reunion with my high school class. Briefly, I want to pull a piece from my post last summer, “’Hi. I’m Michael, and I survived my high school reunion:’

Without projecting my own experience upon others as a norm, I conclude my reunion-reflection with a realization discovered while filling out my “where are you now,” questionnaire offered at each of the events. “What is one thing you wish you would have known when you were in high school?” This question fell between, “Who do you still talk to from high school?” and, “Tell us about your family,” and has since resonated with me. My answer was brief and simple…

“I didn’t know it all.”

That was relevant for high school-Michael, and it is certainly relevant now. I’m embracing this. I’m celebrating this. I’m giving myself a break, and I hope the same for you. I didn’t know it all. And I still don’t. And that’s absolutely okay.

So, Why the long narrative and multi-story post, you might be wondering? I say all of this to, 1. honor my friend who is currently in their own ‘not knowing what they don’t know,’ and 2. because I, too, need to pause and remember these principles.

There are people who still cautiously ask me, “So, where are you these days?” As if, living in Indiana, China, Oklahoma, and DC all in a 12-month span is not confusing and unknown. As if, reflecting on a high school reunion one year later is not scary and nostalgic. As if, risk is a magnet and our decisions are its antithesis. If you know anything about me, you know that I’m a dreamer. I’m constantly writing down ideas, and thinking and reflecting, and hoping and aiming. It’s part of my everyday routine. It’s madness. And because of this fluid mindset, I have lived a life of taking chances and risks and leaps of [faith?]. Furthermore, I have discovered a lot of this processing is as a result of living simply unsure.

And, unsure isn’t wrong. Unsure isn’t lost. And what you don’t know isn’t a fault of your own. Rather, what you don’t know impacts your energy and zest to discover, unearth, and explore. To know. Eventually.

And this is the advice I left on my friend who I mentioned in the first few paragraphs of this piece. Risk is the most terrifying and the most liberating feeling. And, at the core, you discover your what by trying. Doing. Making moves and quitting jobs. Taking jobs. Asking for help. Confronting people. Saying yes. No. I don’t know.

Wandering.

I had a friend recently ask me where I was living and working and traveling these days.

All I could think to say was, “I’m out here, climbing and exploring Mt. Wanderlust.”

Will you climb with me?

Climb on,

Michael

Sure, being a social justice warrior is easy… that is, until you go “home.”

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Let’s face it, for the most part, our parents, family members, family-friends, and/or raised-guardians don’t all have the same beliefs as us. And, in the grand scheme of life and healthy dissonance, this makes for great validation regarding why it is that we believe what we believe when we believe. Values change. And this is certainly the case in my situation. As I’ve grown older, I have found some nice solidarity with friends and loved ones who share a similar pause when going “home” for the holidays (this is the same pause one might experience when a family member starts debating an article or thought on any form of social media). It’s not easy. And there will be times when topics, incidents, and issues are brought up, and all you want to do is remove your human rights cap and keep your mouth shut. Hell, sometimes I don’t even pack the metaphorical hat.

But my fellow social justice warriors, there’s something you must know… even though the holidays are fast approaching, it is now more essential than ever that we have these difficult conversations. You see, when you (we) remove that social justice cap, we push pause on any progress or dissonance which might be lurking somewhere within the almost-conversation (or debate, dialogue, argument, etc.). And I will be the first to admit that this is terrifying, frustrating, and altogether annoying.

I know the feeling of cringing while hoping your cousins or siblings don’t use, “that’s gay,” or, “fag.” More so, I am always conscious of how I’ll be perceived when/if I have to correct them when they do use this language. And, of course, it’s not always a selfish moment. For some, it’s that moment when the family refuses to acknowledge that Aunt Whitney’s “roommate” is actually her partner. Because Aunt Whitney is a lesbian. And Aunt Whitney deserves to live open and free. But, Aunt Whitney is the whispered about family member, and at times it’s easier for you to just let Aunt Whitney fly solo – after all, you have your own battles to fight, right?

Perhaps it’s Ferguson. And perhaps your entire family is walking around on eggshells anytime, “Black Lives Matter,” and, “I can’t breathe,” appears on television or news. Black lives do matter. Talk about it. Be open to challenging privilege and oppression. Be open to educating and empowering. Most likely, you’re not alone. And while I could go on with fifty more examples, religion and the ever-changing belief systems of young adults can also be a point of contention for many. Believe whatever you want. Be ever-changing. Stand up for yourself and articulate your growth. Your growth matters.

Let’s pause here for a moment (and if you have an Aunt Whitney or Aunt Whitney-adjacent, text her now…she – whoever “she” is for you – needs that support, and she needs the affirmation that someone out there accepts she and her partner as family…this validation is essential).

Outside of being a general warrior of all things just, the holidays can also be a compromising moment for all those electing to use the season as an opportunity to come out to family and friends (and, “come out,” as, whatever, whoever, whyever). Whereas it’s easy to weep with joy over hidden cameras revealing phenomenal reactions of parents on the receiving end of their child’s coming out, not all processes are hugs and happy tears. In fact, many are the exact opposite. And furthermore, many leave open wounds and heartache many years following one’s actual coming out.

Each year before the November & December holidays, I try send a tweet reading something along the lines of the following:

“The holidays are often a time where individuals come out to their family and friends. If someone comes out to you, thank them and love them.”

And I believe this with my entire being. You may be one of many or you may be the only person someone comes out to. Receiving this information is a compliment, and more times than not, you are being told because someone believes you to be someone who cares about them and supports their authenticity. They see you as a warrior, and someone who will fight for and with them. And the truth is, my friends – a warrior is a warrior, is a warrior… regardless of context. It’s not easy. And let’s be honest, unless you have the rare ability to let things roll off your back, there will be times where you need some sense of reprieve this holiday season. And that’s absolutely okay.

Also note, believing in and fighting for social justice and human rights is exhausting. And draining. And frustrating. And while the anxiety certainly goes up for many of us this time of year, please equally remember that this type of work and passion is also rewarding. Huge wins can come out of the dialogues you are gearing up for this next few weeks. Some will take time, and others will seem completely hopeless. But if I learned anything this past year, it’s that dissonance is learning, and the learning will occur as long as you are courageous enough to take the first step.

Will you continue to advance social, human, and societal rights and justness? Do you have the courage to speak up, step in, and intervene when you know something is not right? And finally, can you keep your ‘cool’ when you’re standing isolated, solo, and/or alone?

Press on, march on, and more importantly, fight on.

Planting seeds,

Michael

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Tucson.

Although I am a born-and-bred Oklahoman, my parents are actually both mostly from Arizona (by way of Philly and by way of Indiana). My entire life, “going to Grandma and Poppy’s,” meant going to Tucson, Arizona, and to this day, I can still recall varying moments of my life occurring within the confines of that community. But this post is not about my background, even despite recent attempts to better understand just who I am and where I come from. Today’s post is about aging and the realities which exist around watching others grow old(er).

For most of the last decade, my grandmother has called me, “her Peter Pan.” Implying I will never grow up (in the best of ways), my grandmother has been on the front-lines of watching all the trials and tribulations life has had to offer me. And like good grandmothers, she has watched with optimism and support. But unlike Peter, I did grow up. Visiting my grandmother’s house over the past few days, I was repeatedly startled by the time capsule-like environment created by photos and magnets representing the lifespan of a dozen cousins and myself. She even has photos of me that I have never seen. It was exciting, and filled with nostalgia.

The only real experience I have had in watching someone grow up seemingly “right before my eyes” is as a result of one of my dearest friends from graduate school. This specific friend had a baby when we were in graduate school, and from the day she gave birth to precious Jack, I had a front-row view of the first two years of his life (and as a side note, they still give me shit for eating a bowl of fajitas at the hospital because I was multitasking seeing the new angel baby and trying to find time for lunch). Aging, right before my eyes – physically, emotionally, mentally, intellectually. It was fascinating, and I am forever thankful to my friend for allowing me to be part of her family’s growth. And as I age and grow, I wish for the same experience with my own family.

It has been several years since I have been back in Tucson to see family, however there was a time in my life when I visited at least once per year. When I was younger, watching my cousins grow up was quite the shock, and there was no Facebook at the time to tease us with life happenings across the United States. With each year, new heights were achieved, intellectual successes explored, and ups & downs of adolescence experienced. But this past few weeks has been different. I had the opportunity to see one of my cousins in Seattle and then two here in Tucson. And as a disservice to each of them, I still remember (and refer to) them as, “my baby cousins.” Again, these trips were different. They aren’t babies anymore. They’re adults, living, working, relating, pushing, etc. They grew up. And just as my grandmother captured all of our life moments in her time-capsule-living-quarters, my mind has been replaying this growth on nonstop repeat. The 2-year old flower-girl cousin who I walked down the isle with with as a 7-year old ring bearer can now have a glass of wine with me and talk about life. And, so, I pause. Enter, “Where did the time go,” here, right?

And despite my pause for perspective, this is life, right? “Time flies,” and other related sentiments. This is life. We age, we grow, we move up/on/over, etc. And life is scary, right? In all of my independence, and throughout all of my need to grow and thrive independently, I have learned that family has been one of the most consistent pieces of my life (for those who know me well, you will agree that this is quite the ‘ah-ha’ for me). And more than my blood-family, I have also grown to realize that my non-blood family is also equally important and consistent. And both families grow, and move, and change, and develop. And if we are too busy or too distracted to stop and embrace this constant changing and evolving nature, we will miss out. And I certainly missed out on a lot. Perfect timing for a visit “home” to San Antonio, right?

And, so, another learning lesson has appeared, and I am now more than ever reframing how I can value family just a little bit more in this new year and new direction.

How are you honoring your family-family or friend-family this holiday? How are you making time to see people, and to celebrate the aging process? Does this scare you? Hell, it scares me. The mortality of family is one thing I can’t quite wrap my head around. And it somewhat haunts me. Daily. But I have the opportunity to make a change in regard to family. I can keep the, every-two-years-Michael-comes-around-before-disappearing-into-work-and-life, sentiment, or I can pause and make time for people who matter. Despite our differences, I can make family matter.

And so can you. Even with baggage and difference, I challenge you to navigate and maneuver around the crap. Because, no matter how great your family is, there’s still a fair amount of crap – some just hide it better than others. Unearth the crap. Be the crap. Love the crap. Try, and try again.

In the spirit of planes, trains, and automobiles,

Michael

*This concludes my post-China travel posting for now. Thanks to all those who joined me at varying parts of my journey – of course, with many more to come. For now, I’m off to San Antonio…looking forward to the holidays, and a bit of consistent warm weather. 

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Los Angeles.

Oh, Los Angeles. It was good to be back.

As most of you are aware, my first gig out of college was in the sunny city of Los Angeles, California. And since leaving that world, I try to make my way back at least once per year. I guess this week is my once for the year.

I’m off to Tucson today, and in planning for my trip, I called my grandmother to make sure it was okay that I popped in for a few days. Of course, she was excited to see me, and was somewhat startled by my need to plan out my three days with her.

“Let’s just take one day at a time,” she argued.

I was relieved. Having such a strict agenda when visiting family can be exhausting, and sometimes low-key and unpredictable moments can help with some of the baggage I talked about in my previous post. My grandmother then followed up with a story about how her daughters (my mom and her sisters) use to get on to her for not letting things go. “Let it go, Mom,” they would argue. And her response?

“Where does it go?”

It seems that with age, there becomes less of a need to plan and plot out every twist and turn. My grandmother then went on to assert that her, “where does it go,” inquiry only made things more complicated, and at some point, we are all responsible for actually truly pausing and letting things go. And this grandmother-inspired sentiment exists as the ah-ha from my time in Los Angeles this week:

Be unprogrammed.

Although I packed my calendar with meet-ups and friend-dates while in LA, I enjoyed a relatively unprogrammed few days. I stayed with one of my best friends, who I have known for just about ten years, and there was something really calming about hanging out each night without having to program, plan, and coordinate some out-going shenanigans. That, and we are almost thirty. This alone add some sense of escape.

And while this may come with age, my precious grandmother is only giving me a glimpse into the realities of just sitting still, and letting it go (whatever the hell, “it,” ever really is). As the holidays are approaching (from the traditional sense or merely the “offs” we receive from the societally-observed celebrations), now is truly the best time to let it go. And I would argue, start with yourself.

Sure, things are uncomfortable, stressful, and at times, draining. But such is life. Move on. Move on and move forward. But above all else, be still. Let whatever needs to pass, pass, and then find some comfort in whatever the hell presents itself. As my friend affirmed me just months before the China bit ever came to fruition, “Throw your dream into space like a kite, and you do not know what it will bring back, a new life, a new friend, a new love, a new country” (Anais Nin). Hold on to that kite, and give it everything you’ve got.

Throwing,

Michael

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Portland.

I am just going to put this out there, and then we can move on…

I have never been more attracted to flannel, beards, arm-sleeve tattoos, kids in coffee shops, and the idea of jogging with a dog, as I have now following the 48 hours I just spent in Portland, Oregon. I digress.

If you are living under the same rock I have been occupying this past few weeks, you will agree that a blink was all it took for November to come and go. And let’s be honest, December is now in full swing. December is a roller-coaster of a month, and since I have returned from China and have now already experienced two major US cities, I am starting to pause and remember all the baggage that comes with this exciting month.

Yes, I said, “baggage.”

Baggage. Scary, right?

It’s real. It can be raw. And it’s comically surrounded by some of the most intended-to-be joyous holidays. We all have baggage, and it looks very different for each of us. And regardless of context or ways in which one navigates through their baggage, it’s also always there for all of us. But there is hope. And as I have been in reflection mode in how to effectively journey through my own baggage during this time of year, I have come up with a few strategies which might be the wave I ride on into the holidays.

Listen.

Winter and seasonal change often bring up a lot for people. And more times than not, all we really want is for someone to stop what they are doing, be fully present, and give us their undivided attention. Consequently, we need to adapt to a need for the same response. People just want to be heard. If a friend or family member asks for an ear, listen. Pause your own moment, and give them a chance to have theirs. And, of course, this comes with the caveat that judgement is the worst strategy when providing this space for someone. Actually hear someone. Connect.

If someone wants your opinion, your experience, or your perspective, they will let you know (and if they don’t, ask). I recently had lunch with a good friend while I was in Seattle, and while we were talking about my current job search, he casually asked me, “What do you need from me while you are searching?” This was particularly relevant because said-friend is actually a seasoned and skilled career advisor. But in that moment, he knew that I didn’t need a coaching session, and rather just someone to process with. A friend. And that, he provided. It was great, because I’m in a good place, and as I shared with him, when I’m ready for the advising session, I’ll let him know. And he listened in the best and most beautiful way.

Appreciate. 

Difference often rears its beautiful head this time of year, and conversations around change and progress will more than likely take center stage. And before you freak out about the possibility of telling your parents you converted to a new religion, quit your job, are dating someone ten years older than you, or that simply you support or don’t support all things anti-their political beliefs, please remember to pause. Seriously, just pause. December and the holidays are often a time where real and raw world and life shit is/are brought up (more baggage, if you will), and families around the globe will engage in un/healthy debate around some of the very things which light a fire under our passions, emotions, heart, etc. But again, please pause.

Embrace this dissonance (as, “dissonance is learning,” and other related sentiments). Find some sense of appreciation for those who you are engaging. Learn from them. And aside from the big picture moments which will certainly be a part of this reprieve, also remember that individuals have small, subtle moments happening which should also still be validated and appreciated. Validate. Appreciate. Pause. Listen. And more than anything for others, find some sense of appreciation for yourself. Validate your own experiences and big and small life moments. Define these moments for yourself. Write your story. Paint your picture. Love yourself a little harder.

Disconnect. 

My first day in Seattle came with an attempt to bunker down at a coffee shop and work on some emails and blog posts. Soon, I realized that every plug in the joint was actually covered and that there were no opportunities to re/charge my technology. When I asked, the response was related to squatters and people who ordered a small tea and then nursed the cup all day so they could capitalize on the generously free wifi. Of course, I instantly texted my friend with frustration, and an, I-can’t-believe-they-would-take-electricity-away-from-me-I-deserve-more, aggressive message. Needless to say, he was in solidarity with the coffee shop.

Apparently, this is not uncommon. My friend went on to tell me about another place he knew near his campus in Florida, where they did the same thing. But instead of technology-blocking young writers just trying to share their experiences with the world, they blocked technology to encourage their patrons to disconnect more. They wanted people to read the old-fashioned way, to talk with friends, and to take a breather from technology. I was stunned, and obviously intrigued. How often do we do this? I have previously posted about technology and disconnecting, but in this moment, it became a reality as a result of my newfound limitation. And I was no longer mad about it. And as a result of this reminder, I am using today’s post as an additional push to live a life more disconnected from technology – if anything, around the holidays. A detox never hurt anyone. And while you disconnect from technology, reconnect with old friends and family members. That has been one of the best experiences from my travels thus far. Hell, last night, I had dinner and drinks with a friend I hadn’t seen in nearly ten years. It was a blast, and our phones were barely present while we dined and hung out with his partner and a few friends. Detox a bit. Be free.

Jam. 

Finally, it’s as simple as this: find some music and jam out. Music is so good for the soul, and these days, finding community around music has been a nice reprieve from all the other nutty life moments occurring for me. Several years ago, I drove around for three hours and played Tupac’s, “Changes,” over and over until I learned the entire song. It was perfect, and now I have a great go-to song when I need to feel like a total bad ass. But this moment was all about me, and there are other ways to engage with music where others can find some love and light as well. Specifically, ’tis the season to do some caroling. And for all the non-observers of Christmas, caroling as a concept is still relevant whether it is Christmas music or not. In fact, I love nothing more than gathering a group of friends and going door-to-door with our favorite early-2000’s hits (“Bye, Bye, Bye,” “Genie in a Bottle,” to name a few). Have fun. Pull out a guitar. Play music if you don’t want to sing. Just be around the moving moment which music can create.

These aren’t fireproof, however they serve as a good start. I feel satisfied, going all-in in an attempt to survive some of the December woes which come with transition and “home.” And although these points may come off as an easy reprieve from the baggage initially introduced in this post, I would be a fool to believe that all baggage is this easy to work through. And as I sift through these tips, I should also pause to validate all those friends and followers who have lost a loved one this year or any year. In fact, I even hate referring to losing a loved one as, “baggage.” This is real life, and for many, the grieving never ends. Sure, holidays may bring up individual moments which can be easily worked through, however the holidays also bring up real and raw grieving processes that may get easier with each year, yet still never truly go away.

And to those friends who are continuing to grieve: I support you, you are loved. And, although these times are tough, please find solidarity with those around you. Be supported. Be loved. And if you don’t feel as though you have anyone around you, please pick up the phone and call or text me. I am here, and will be. Be supported this holiday season. And above all else, know that you are loved.

For, “Changes,”

Michael

Photo by Paul Bauer