Coping with Loneliness

Originally Published October 14, 2020

This is going to be a very vulnerable piece for me. Honestly, I am struggling with writing it because of the different aspects of myself that this post is revealing. I am doing so however, because this is the only way we grow; by facing our fears and rising above various challenges. I hope that by the end of this there is something that you can take away from it.

Before I zoom out, it is important that I zoom in. Being alone and feeling alone are two completely different things. Have you ever been in a room full of people and still felt unseen or isolated? You were not technically alone. There were people all around you, but in your being, you were the only one there.

We all desire acknowledgment. But what does that look like within the context of the individual? I entitled this coping with loneliness but in reality, there is no cookie cutter way to mitigate this deficiency in our lives.

I struggle with this topic so deeply because all I know is loneliness. It pains me to acknowledge that fact because I have people in my life who demonstrate their love for me; but when put in proper perspective, I have no one who is willing to “go over the cliff” with me.

What I am referring to is life over situational support. It is easy for someone to be “there” when you need them, but is a person willing to be there when you do not need them? I often ask myself the question, is anyone thinking of me? I feel like that is too much to ask of a person: “please consider me”.

Who am I to you for you to be considerate of my well-being? This question has an inherent implication of does one believe that they are worthy of consideration. Is my existence valuable enough for me to think of me? If I were to disappear by the time I finish writing this would anyone notice? For example, over the last 72 hours, no one has even thought “hey I should see how Ken is doing”. I know because my phone has not rung once.

Again, I realize this is too much to ask of someone, and I am tiptoeing around a place I hate to be. The fact remains however, that I have a longing to belong and nowhere that I belong to. This is true in every area of my life – I am lonely in the most bitter sense of the word.

Who would be there for me if I could not be there for myself? Who is there for me when I cannot be there for myself? This is a new struggle, as I have come to the revelation that I cannot be all that I am meant to be without the help of others. I have a desire for companionship, and I hate that flaw in me.

I wish I was not so imperfect in this way. A desire to be known, accepted, and followed over a cliff. A longing to belong. A fetish to be fetishized. Worship. I desire to be worshiped.

I know this can come off as an extremist standpoint, and I am probably wrong for thinking this way. But when you look at it from a theological perspective, the Bible says that we were created in God’s likeness meaning we bare his characteristics. If this is the case, and God wants to be worshiped, why would that not be something that is present in our own lives?

And when you think about it, have you ever met anyone who does not enjoy being celebrated? Call me crazy, but I would argue that adoration is part of the human experience. I may be one of the few people to express it in this way, but I refuse to believe that I am the only person to ever feel like this before.

The question becomes, how do we cope with our loneliness? I have considered every possible remedy that has come to my mind, and short of a significant other/wishing my mother was still alive, I have no answer. Again, I cannot stand how weak I am in this area of my life. I never asked to struggle in this way. No one consulted me before I was born and said:

“Hey, do you want to come into this world? You’re going to be a black man in America meaning society is going to hate and ignore you. You will have no support from the men in your life. Your mother will die shortly after your birth so you will have no idea what it means to have a woman in your life that loves and cares for you. you will constantly feel dejected and rejected. And your life will feel like a constant treadmill; no matter how long or how fast you run, you will still end up going nowhere. No one will understand you, and worse, no one will try to understand you. But hey, at least you will be alive… Oh, wait I forgot to mention you will also struggle with mental health issues and constantly wish for your own death”.

Not to be mellow dramatic, but rather to display my own humanity. This is what I go through. I dedicated this website to my authenticity, and it would be a gross negligence if I were not authentic with my audience throughout all my content. Yes, I am still hopeful for my future but every day I wake up, I live in my present. I must process through the challenges that each individual day brings.

The moral of the story is that feeling lonely sucks. You can ask for help, hyper extend yourself and reach out to other people, even go see a therapist. And while those things may help in the moment I cannot say that they alleviate the root of the problem. Loneliness stems from a desire to be desired and giving someone something they do not want will not make them want you. Paying for attention is sadistic in its own way. And being around people will not always make you feel less lonely.

The feeling of loneliness is an intentional flaw. A gift that came with life. I cannot say if it something that everyone goes through but it more common than not. In some cases, our growth predicates itself on who we do and do not have attached to us.

Loneliness is oxymoronic in its nature. It is selfish to ask someone to be part of your life. Yet people want to be apart of something existential. The grand design of life is a grand joke. We ponder this stuff as if we are the cause; we are only experiencing the symptoms.

How to Take Care of Yourself When you Feel like you are getting Sick

Originally Published October 31, 2020

In 2021 it seems like people are susceptible to getting sick from any and everything. Self care is something that is not in the realm of conscious conversation anymore because truth be told, a healthy person is not a profitable person. Drug companies cannot make money off of someone who is healthy because that person does not need their drugs.

In the midst of a global pandemic, the last thing anyone should want, is a compromised immune system. Aside from covid-19 we still have our seasonal regulars of the common cold, the flu, pneumonia, sore throat, strep throat, whooping cough, bronchitis, and more.

Thanks to the pandemic, people have grown more accustomed to safety measures like masks, gloves, frequent washing of hands, and disinfecting. However; how we take care of the inside of us is just as, if not more important than how we take care of the outside of us. What you ingest and how you maintain your body can have a lasting impact on your overall well-being; Especially as it relates to combating pathogens.

When it comes to maintaining my immune system strength, I believe in prevention versus treatment. There are things you could be doing today to give your immune system the daily boost that it needs to keep you strong and healthy. By the time you get sick its too late. If you want to be wealthy, health is wealth.

You cannot truly enjoy life and be in discomfort at the same time.

I want you to be amazing, and the basis for being amazing is being alive. I am passionate about health in this way because I come from a people who have been historically relegated to not having access to proper healthcare, or the awareness of suitable healthcare practices.

Here are ways you can stay healthy and nurse yourself back to health when you feel as though you are getting sick:

Learn to Identify the Symptoms

The first step in combating a sickness is knowing that you are coming down with something. I believe that this falls in the realm of common sense for most people, but it can be questionable at first to identify whether or not you are coming down with something or if you are just having a coughing or sneezing fit.

One of the telltale signs that you are coming down with something is a sore throat. A sore throat can come in many different variations: it could be the back of your throat, the side, when you swallow, or even an irritation or tingling that runs up to either one of your ears. Typically (see your doctor as it pertains to you) a sore throat is one notch down from a full blown cold.

In other cases, you could also find yourself very congested. Mucus build-up is another indicator that you are potentially coming down with something and should act accordingly. As it relates to Covid-19, the symptoms for that in particular can range anywhere from loss of taste and smell to diarrhea. In a case like that where anything abnormal could be a symptom it is imperative that you are cognizant of your own body.

The bottom line here is to be aware of yourself. Not every sickness will be obvious, but if you are noticing things like fatigue, feelings of lethargy, mucus build-up and the like (stuffy nose); Then being a little more concerned about your immune health in those moments would not necessarily be a bad assumption.

Detox

sliced lemon fruit in glass picher for a detox that helps when feeling sick
Photo by Julia Zolotova on Pexels.com

Right off the bat, the first thing I would encourage you to do is to get on a daily or semi daily detox. Detoxes are outstanding. They provide your body with a boost of nutrients. They flush out your body, and they promote a healthy immune system. For more on detoxes check out the post that I wrote explaining a few of my personal favorites.

Foods

There are some key food items and food groups you should both avoid and gravitate towards when you are feeling yourself starting to come down with a cold; The first of which being garlic.

Garlic

Garlic is a personal favorite and it is known for having medicinal properties. Raw garlic has allicin. It, along with other compounds in garlic give it its healing capabilities. It is encouraged that if you feel the sniffles coming on that you take a clove or two of raw fresh garlic. Just pop a clove in your mouth, and chew it up. Obviously, this is better done with dinner than with breakfast, however, doing so can reduce your chances of getting sick.

two white garlics that are good for when you feel sick
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Hot food

Another good food category when you’re trying to prevent a cold is hot foods. This includes food dishes that use spicy seasoning, and hot peppers themselves. Eating spicy foods can help improve gut health including digestion; Allowing for you to be able to process nutrients more efficiently.  They also help keep your heart healthy, and they aid with pain relief.

hot peppers help reduce fever and sick symptoms
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Dairy

This is the one section of the grocery store that you want to avoid. That’s right no milk, no ice cream, no cheese, no yogurt. Nothing that is dairy based. The reason why you do not want to eat dairy when you are sick is because it can cause more mucus to build up in your system. Having copious amounts of mucus in your system is contrary to preventing or treating a cold.

This goes for soups too. Try to avoid soups that are made with dairy. Go for soups that are chicken broth, vegetable broth, or seafood broth based.

dairy products you should avoid when sick
Image source

Vitamins

The next way to nurse yourself back to health when you are feeling yourself starting to get sick is to take a lot of vitamins. The most obvious one being vitamin C. Vitamin C is one of the core vitamins in our body that is responsible for a proper functioning immune system. It also plays an essential role in the repair and development of our body as well.

close up of oranges in a bowl that have vitamin c that help reduce fever and feeling sick
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Vitamin D is another good vitamin that helps with strengthening your immune system. Vitamin D supports your cells in fighting off various pathogens. It can also help lower your risk for respiratory infections.

Then there is Zinc. Zinc is a mineral that helps develop your immune cells. It is also valuable in combating inflammation in the body. It can also help protect against some respiratory tract infections including the common cold.

Mindset

The next thing that you want to employ when combating the onset of a cold is a proper mindset. Feeling sick/being sick sucks. However, one of the best ways you can help yourself is by willing yourself to do as much as you can. That ‘much’ does not have to be a lot but, it should be something you would classify as substantial. So not necessarily doing all of your regular daily activities, but rather, checking off one or two things from your to do list.

The key here is, if you can help it, you do not want to act as if you are sick. Please use common sense: quarantine yourself if necessary, make sure you take the proper precautions when in public, and wash your hands frequently but also; just because you may be coming down with something, does not mean that something should weigh you down.

woman in grey jacket sits on bed uses grey laptop doing work while feeling sick
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

Activating your will power in these moments is really about asserting dominance over your circumstance. You may have a sickness, but that sickness does not have you. Keeping your mind in this type of proactive and positive mindset when dealing with any inconvenience, not just being sick, is valuable because you allow yourself to progress through the illness/situation.

You are not just allowing yourself to get/be sick, but you are actively trying to get better at the same time. Mind over matter is the game changer in almost all of life’s scenarios. Do not be afraid to indulge a little if you are feeling yourself come down with a cold. Take a longer shower, draw yourself a hot bath, make some soup from scratch, or put on a good movie. Treat yourself like The King or Queen that you are. It is in your weakness that you can get to see in full display how worthy you believe you are, by how you treat yourself.

A clean Environment

The next thing that is an absolute necessity when nursing yourself back to health, is a clean environment. The last thing that anyone should ever want, is to be in a dirty home while they are not feeling good. Not only is that unhealthy in and of itself, but that environment is not conducive to a proper recovery. 

Do what you can to give your space an extra thorough wipe down. Clean often, the areas of your home that you use regularly, and change your sheets and pillow cases frequently. Make sure you reduce clutter in your space as well.

Being in an environment that promotes good health is about it supporting all aspects of your health. Your space should be physically clean, there should be room for your mind to wander, meaning, nothing should be around that will overly stress you out; and you should have no pitfalls or temptations lying around/easily accessible.

photo of a clean living room
Photo by Jean van der Meulen on Pexels.com

Have things around you that are soothing. Low lights, fragrant candles, tea, and other things that will promote inner peace. Turn the television off, and read a book, do a puzzle, or work on a hobby. One good thing about not feeling well is that it will cause you to slow down.

If that happens do not feel as though you must be Superman or Wonder Woman – instead take a moment to enjoy the scenery. You are a spiritual being having a physical experience meaning everything happens for a reason. It is possible, that your physical sickness is a metaphor for spiritual healing that may need to take place as well. 

Medicine

medicine
Assorted pharmaceutical medicine pills, tablets and capsules over blue background

Ibuprofen

I have a minimalist ideology. I do not find value using a lot of over the counter medicines, and the ones I do use are intentional. My number one favorite fever reducer is Motrin. I believe in Motrin. Nine times out of ten Motrin works. Motrin is an over the counter ibuprofen that helps with inflammation, pain relief, and fever reduction.

I like Motrin so much because it is one of if not the strongest grade ibuprofen you can get over the counter. I value not having additives in whatever it is I put in my body, so if I can get something that is relatively pure, it is going to be higher on my list than another similar product. Ibuprofen is pretty easy to get over the counter and it has the same general health benefits across most producers of it.

Vapor Rub 

The next thing that you want to use to help nurse yourself back to health is vapor rub. This stuff is amazing. Vapor rub is a methanol ointment with a petroleum jelly like texture. Its most famous iteration is Vicks Brand VapoRub.

The primary use for vapor rub is its ability to alleviate pain and congestion. Common practice with vapor rub is to place the balm under your nose, on your chest, on your upper back if possible, and on and around your neck. After rubbing yourself down with the vapor rub, you want to cover the areas you put the salve on as you do not want those parts of your body to be openly exposed. Typically, this would be a before bed practice for me; At least that way, I can cover myself with my sheets or a blanket.

Cough and Cold Relief

You always should have a secret weapon in your arsenal. In situations where I feel myself either coming down with a cold or am full blown sick, my weapons of choice are Dayquil/Nyquil and Mucinex.  These are two cough and cold over the counter medicines that I personally find a lot of value in. Mucinex being my favorite of the two, is like a high powered cold and cough kicker.

If your system is gunked up, from my experience Mucinex can clean it out. Same goes for Dayquil/Nyquil. I am a little partial towards Day/Nyquil however, because I do not believe this product works as well for me as Mucinex, but it is a solid number two choice.

If you need near immediate relief, these are my suggested products for you. That being said, everyone is different, and you may need something stronger or weaker depending on your body, so keep that in mind when shopping these products.


photo of man wearing eyeglasses
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Everything outlined in this post was done so with one goal in mind: to help you take control of your physical health. Yes, you should be working out as much as possible, and watching what you eat; all of those things contribute greatly to a healthy lifestyle.

Remedying and tending to your internal body parts however, is equally important to how you care for yourself externally. You probably will not want to workout if your immune system is compromised, and you will not feel like eating if you are really sick. Holistic health and wellness is about every part of you: your body, mind, resource, and environment.

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How Sexual Repression is Degrading Society

Since the beginning of time, sex has been a domineering force in human existence. Traceable all the way back to the garden of eden, our susceptibility to sensuality has been weaponized in such a way to cause us to perpetually stumble and fall. Using the Bible as a historical precursor we can see that no good has ever come from society [other people] knowing what goes on in the privacy of our individual bed rooms. In the Bible there is a story of a woman who ‘was caught’ “in the act of committing adultery” (John 8:3). She was brought in the middle of a crowd where she could – and likely would have been publicly shamed, humiliated, and stoned to death (Leviticus 20:10).

The character of Jesus who was on the scene at the time famously stepped in on her behalf and said “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.” (John 8:7, King James Version). I am not adding an extra layer of justification on what took place on that day, maybe that woman did deserve to be stoned – however, the grace of Jesus in this moment is that her sex life was none of their business.

As a black man, who is yes in fact attracted to white women (and men), I am very familiar with the weaponization of my own sexuality. My people at the foundations of America were not only ostracized as less than human, but were also considered social pariah’s for our inclination towards a more hyper sexual orientation.

Society was taught to fear the sexuality of black people [black men specifically] because we would rape their [white] women. I would be lying if I said that I did not like that trope – every stereotype is based in some truth, however, as is the case with Jesus and that woman, what we were and are attracted to should not be society’s business in the first place.

The same is true for the plight of homosexuals. When you consider the ancient Roman Empire, one of the distinctly obvious but far less scrutinized aspects of their civilization was the men’s proclivity for other men. In their time it was perfectly normal for patriarchs [heads of one’s own proverbial household] to take and lay with other men.

I will not go as far as to say it was encouraged, however it was socially accepted as one’s own business and welcome within that society. It’s not until early America that we are able to see a society that is plainly oppressive to their queer community; Not to say this is where that started (more on that later) but rather as a more obvious precursor.

During World War 1 we saw a society in America that took a notable interest in the LGBTQ community and not necessarily for good reason. As is America’s history and appetite for subjugation, society sought a new people to tread on probably as a subconscious response to Abraham Lincoln’s freeing of the slaves in 1863. Here we find a similar issue of Straight [heterosexual] men in particular but not exclusively, bringing queer people to the emblematic town square (middle of the crowd) and declaring that they too should be “stoned to death”.

Homosexuals were considered to have a mental disorder, were not welcome in the United States Army at the time and were looked upon with disdain by their peers (fellow human beings). Once again, I am not implying proper or improper treatment of a persons or people group however what I am saying is – like with that woman, a person’s sexual orientation should not have been society’s business.

From this catalyst we see something taking place that should have never been an issue in the first place. The societal hatred of LGBTQ people at the early onset of America led to various movements being birthed where people who were attracted to the same sex began litigating an issue that should have never been in the court of public opinion. All of a sudden we have a society of people casting stones while reveling in their own sin – and people being put to death for something that if they could change it they would.

I believe this unhealthy interest in what goes on in someone else’s bed should be relegated to one’s own personal search history. As someone who is an aspiring adult film actor to a certain degree, I empathize with the fact that people are sexual beings and sometimes just need a release however, I also believe we as a society should take on Ancient Rome’s perspective and let them that wish to, do so without reproach.

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Are Siri and Alexa Becoming our New Best Friends?

In an increasingly isolated world where we are constantly normalizing decreased social interaction, if you were to take a moment and consider your own social dynamics and friend groups, you would probably discover the same thing that I have: your social life has likely drastically diminished. In a post pandemic world, as people try to put the pieces of their torn apart sense of normalcy back together in a way that fits their new reality, we are discovering new depths of loneliness and isolation. Do not believe me? Ask yourself: “When was the last time I had a full in-depth conversation with someone I would consider a complete stranger?”.

I am not suggesting that we should ignore the cornucopia of American society: ‘Stranger Danger’, however, what I am saying, is that gone are the days of just striking up a conversation with a random. Every day since the pandemic has started, I could probably count on one hand the number of meaningful conversations I have had over the last year with people outside of my immediate sphere of influence. And in a world that is increasingly propagandized with anti-social sentiment, filled with socially dependent humans, the question within its context becomes how do we satisfy our need for socialization in the 21st century?

Now I will say, that isolation and loneliness have varying trends among different people and age groups. Normally and historically every human being before they breathe their last breath on planet earth will experience some type of loneliness. In a lot of ways, the historical trend is rather cyclical: young adults tend to be lonelier than when they are in their late teens, and the elderly tend to be lonelier than when they were middle aged to advanced adults. When discussing loneliness, it is important to point this fact out as to not to distort its reality.

And while some people groups are just more likely to live lonely and isolated lives, the issue I am highlighting is more severe in that it is defying those trends. Last year over 60% of Americans identified as feeling lonely. That is a 7% increase over the last two years. In the study that uncovered this data, it was also found, that young people between the ages of 18-22 self-identified as being/feeling lonelier than those people ages 70+. The rhythm of this issue is changing meaning the ramifications thereof are also changing.

The main contributor to this global pattern interrupt that is taking place is obviously the times that we are living in. isolation has a direct causation of loneliness. A person who is in a room by themselves, is a person who is in a room by themselves. Solitary confinement in fact, is one of if not the cruelest forms of punishment. Humans are social beings. We require social interaction like we require food in our stomachs.

A Lack of social connection heightens health risks as much as smoking 15 cigarettes a day or having an alcohol use disorder. Social isolation has twice the impact on our mental and physical health than being obese. That’s right, you’re better off being medically overweight than feeling lonely. Additionally, you are more likely to die from social isolation than many other predominant physical health risks (think preexisting conditions). With this all being the case, what are we to do to mitigate our need to have a social life, while at the same time being socialized by society to not socialize?

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What the Heck is Resurrection Power Anyway?

Happy Holy Week! The Easter season is here, and Resurrection Sunday is fast approaching. I love this time of year – Jesus is the reason for the season! Around the world people celebrate Jesus doing the literal impossible and rising from the dead.

I do not know about you, but admittedly, I have never witnessed anything like that before. Its a natural phenomenon.

Miracles happen every day, and as a recipient of many miracles I am not saying it is not possible. There are several stories of someone being brought back to life on a hospital bed. CPR and defibrillation are examples of how we resurrect in the natural. What I am implying however, is most dead things do not just come back to life.

What do you do in a season that represents things coming back to life, while the things that were once important to you, lie dormant and dead? These are the types of things I think about in this season because, how many times have you cared for something, only to watch it die?

I can personally attest to this scenario.

Maybe you had a vision to start a business, or get married, or to move to a different state/country. Maybe you have always wanted kids, but that area of your life has remained perpetually barren. Eventually, after all of your trying you get tired and ultimately you give up. What was once an aspiration becomes a pipe dream. There is no chance that it will come to pass, and even if it does at this point in your life… you rather resent the thought.

I do not know about you, but after I have given up hope, the last thing I want is someone to encourage me to believe again. It hurts to believe. Its difficult to presuppose something that evidently is never going to happen. I do not want to have faith for something that my life says will never happen. I see it as a waste of my time, and would rather put my energy to things that are more realistic, make sense, and are not idealistic in nature.

This is truly a predicament.

Where does resurrection power come into play in this situation? Jesus was only dead for 3 days; your dream(s) may have been dead now for over 30 years. I do not wish to be accused of being the person that causes you to believe again; however, within this context, I think it’s important for us to learn from someone who lived out this exact scenario.

Sarah was the wife of Abraham in the book of Genesis in the Bible. Sarah and Abraham were near 100 years old when the Lord appeared to them and said that Sarah would give birth to a son. That idea was so outlandish, that Sarah laughed at God. Sarah thought that there was no way.

She and Abraham had been married for a long time by the time God gave them this promise, and all Sarah ever wanted was to give Abraham a child. So much so, that she made one of her maids sleep with Abraham so that they may have a child together.

Giving birth was a desire in Sarah’s heart. So, once she was able to finally move past that failure in her life, the last thing she probably wanted to hear or believe was that she was going to have a child. What do you do, when God tells you something contrary to your life circumstances? Sarah laughed.

It is not Sarah’s laughter that should encourage us today, it’s God’s response. When God noticed Sarah laughing, he said: “Is anything too hard for the Lord?” (Genesis 18:14). At this point, Sarah had stopped menstruating for at least 50 years.

For all intent and purposes Sarah’s womb was dead. It had never known life and under normal circumstances would never know life.

But God declared that she would yet bare a child and in a year’s time.

The story ends with Sarah having a child and her and Abraham naming the boy Isaac just as God had said.

God resurrected Sarah’s womb long after she had given up on it. Are there things in your life that you have “given up” on, but you still have a desire for? This Easter, I believe God wants us to experience His Resurrection Power. The interesting implication of resurrection is that what rises from the dead, is the same thing that was buried.

After Jesus was buried after being crucified, when He rose from the dead [resurrected] on the third day, He was exactly the same. He still had the piercings in His hands and feet, and He still had the pierced side. He was the same, but at the same time He was not. When Jesus rose from the dead, he said in Matthew 28:18: “Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.”. Resurrection is not about old life being restored to an old vessel; it’s about new life being given to an old vessel.

If something has died in your life that you once had a real desire for; it’s not because it was never meant to live, but rather, it’s because God wants it to live differently.    

What was so significant about Isaac’s life, that God was determined to bring him forth through Abraham and Sarah? God’s intention through Abraham and Sarah was to build a nation. Isaac was the only son of Abraham and Sarah, and was the father of Jacob who became Israel. Israel (Jacob) had 12 sons that all had families and became the “Nation of Israel”.

If it was not for this first resurrection in Sarah’s womb, there would have been no resurrection of Jesus from His death on the cross. This is resurrection power! This is what the Easter season is really all about – bringing dead things back to life to fulfill a new purpose.

The Value of Work

Labor is a cornerstone of the human experience. To live is to work. No matter what you do whatever you do can be classified within a category of work. When God created Adam, the first thing that He did was employ him. Work is a definitive part of who we are. When/if you socialize one of the most commonly asked questions is: “what do you do?” – implying an explanation of your occupation.

If you have been a reader of mine for a while, then you know that ‘I do not believe in work’. I used to think work was a bad thing because of its inherent fruitlessness. The Bible in the same story of Adam and Eve says that we [humans] are to eat what we cause the ground to produce, and that it – the ground, will produce thorns (Genesis 3:17-19). To understand the significance of this and why this scarred my view of work for so long, you must appreciate the context of the word “ground” and the implications thereof in the twenty first century.

What does it mean to “work the ground”? Well back when this portion of The Bible was written it would have been used in a literal sense meaning; animal raising and agricultural work. Adam was technically a farmer after all. Today, the “ground” could be the company you work for, the store you work at, or the business you are part of. We all toil in some way to produce, so that we may sustain our individual quality of life.

Imagine quitting your job tomorrow with no back up plan. How are you going to pay your rent/mortgage? What about food? And let’s not overlook your extracurricular activity spending. You may be able to get by a month or two on savings; But what happens on the third month when the well runs dry? Work has woven itself into society in a way that can be burdensome.

This is not a denunciation or repudiation of work. Rather I am setting the record straight by saying, that while I do not approve of all work; work in general, does have redeeming qualities that gives us insight into the human condition.

To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it,’

“Cursed is the ground because of you;
    through painful toil you will eat food from it
    all the days of your life.
18 It will produce thorns and thistles for you,
    and you will eat the plants of the field.
19 By the sweat of your brow
    you will eat your food
until you return to the ground,
    since from it you were taken;
for dust you are
    and to dust you will return.”

Genesis 3:17-19


The current structure of work is that we do it to survive. If you or I do not work, we do not get paid. If neither of us get paid, then none of our responsibilities get taken care of. And if as humans we do not have responsibilities, then we do not have meaning.

Not to beat the bill analogy to death, but the only reason some people get out of bed in the morning is because they have bills to pay. The work we do produces thorns. What are thorns in the twenty first century? A Netflix subscription. Paying too much for your internet and phone. That shopping spree that you know you did not need to go on. Work breeds responsibility. You will not be [feel] responsible for something you did not work for.

Growing up, when I first started wearing contacts, I would always lose them. Once I started paying for them with my own money however, I made sure to never lose a lens again. I felt responsible for the lenses because, I felt the pain of having to pay for them with the money I just finished earning by selling forty hours of my entire existence to someone.

You see, when you put work in perspective, the act of work is a good thing in and of itself; the problem is the ground. Sometimes where you toil is more important than what you toil for.

To go back to our agricultural example, it is a lot easier to grow crops in nutrient rich soil than it is to do in soil that has lost all of its nutrients. In the same way, it is better for you and I to make sure that we are working ground that is suitable for what we are trying to produce in our lives. Here is a secret that might break your paradigm: work is not just work. What you do [your work], is an extension of who you are.

Show me what you do for a living and I will tell you the kind of person you are. No this does not mean that you have to like your job; you give yourself away by what you tolerate.

The Bible says that what we approve of is approved and what we disapprove of is disapproved (Matthew 18:18). As this relates to our lives – specifically our work lives, you may not like your job, but what you are willing to put up with at your place of work says something about your character.

What this all means is: If your work is unproductive, it is possible that it is because your environment is unproductive. After cursing the ground and telling us to toil over it, God declares that we [humans] will “eat from the fruits of our labor”. Is your labor producing fruit? Is your work yielding you are return, or are you toiling in vain?  

Sometimes the ground is just bad. Regardless of the work that you do, it will be arduous, there is no getting around that; but at some point in our lives, we should come to a place of wanting to work smarter not harder. The smarter you work, the harder it will make you want to work. What do I mean? For example, as my writing intellect has grown, the caliber of my written content has grown with it.

There is a degree of confidence associated with smart work that makes you want to produce at an excellent quality level. The easier you can do something, the less someone else will appreciate it. But a smart worker knows, that the ease is in the expertise.

Is the ground that you are toiling over producing good food, or are you constantly growing sour apples? Sometimes it’s not our labor, but rather where we are laboring at. Yes, there will be thorns no matter where you plant: you will not always like your boss, you may not get along with every co-worker, or you could be in on the lower end of a higher income tax bracket.

I stand by my belief that work sucks however, I want us to get that work was designed to produce responsibility. And the way we handle responsibility is in direct relation with our character development. If what you are doing is not doing something for you, then maybe it’s time for you to find some new ground.

The Interrelationship Between Dragon Ball Z and the Black Community

The year was 2005, it was 5pm EST and the Toonami block on Cartoon Network was about to premier. The Toonami block was when all of the “cool” cartoons would come on. I’m talking Sailor Moon, Duel Masters, Rave Master, One Piece, Pokémon Chronicles, Immortal Grand Prix (IGPX), and of course Naruto! But among all of those epic shows, none was more epic than Akira Toriyama’s Dragon Ball Z.

Dragon Ball Z is a story about a Saiyan boy from Planet Vegeta that escapes from his home in a space pod; before it [his home] is destroyed by Frieza — the emperor of space. Frieza destroys Planet Vegeta out of a relentless racism toward the Saiyan race and a fear of the potential of one becoming strong enough, to over throw him/his empire [transform into a Super Saiyan]. Goku [Kakarrot], the Saiyan boy who escaped, his space ship crash landed on earth, where he was found and raised by his adoptive grandfather Gohan; And he grew up to become a martial artist.

This show above all the others was what I looked forward to watching the most. Dragon Ball Z for whatever reason resonated with me. To its own credit DBZ (Dragon Ball Z) revolutionized a whole genre of anime for decades after its inception. I just liked the fighting, the destructiveness of the villains, the severity of the situations that the Z-fighters found themselves in.

The various power boosts and transformations — and the explosions from massive kai blasts! I would do the Kamehameha with sound effects and at the same cadence as Goku. I’m not too proud to admit that I have tried going ‘Super Saiyan’ before, and to set the record straight: Vegito is stronger than Gogeta.

I was a fan boy of DBZ for at least 10 years of my life. its not until last year that my perspective changed towards DBZ and I decided to implement a personal boycott. You see, Dragon Ball Z has an innumerably large black fan base and while I do not believe the anime was mal in intent in and of itself — I have reason to believe that the anime has promoted negative stigmas within the black community, specially among black boys that are now becoming and are already black men, and their outlook towards one another.

In the early episodes of the anime, there was an arc that focused on a Saiyan invasion on earth in search of the Dragon Balls. Throughout this invasion we are introduced to Goku’s elder brother: Raddits, and who would soon become an antagonist turned co-protagonist Vegeta. These two encounters in the early episodes of the anime sowed the seeds of rivalry. Here we see Saiyans, the last of their people, fighting and competing against one another — albeit the circumstance of their encounter.

This rivalry is perpetuated throughout the series as Vegeta — Prince of all Saiyans, cements his role in the series. Now you may say how could something that simple have any innuendo on the black community, and in a certain sense you are right it should and probably does not to detriment however; we are products of our consumption, meaning, what we take in we become. I just finished fawning over my experience with DBZ. If this show had that much of an impact on me, I can guarantee there are a multitude of black men as impacted if not more so from this series — some of them were my friends. I say this to say, those seeds of contentiousness that had the opportunity to take root at an early age and were watered regularly through affirmation can and does eventually influence one’s subconscious behavior towards another person/or people group…

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5 Ways to Relieve Stress and Anxiety

As 2021 gets underway, amid the aroma of excitement and new possibilities that a new year brings, people across the world are facing unprecedented scenarios that are only short of maddening. The start of 2021 has been all but peaceful and relaxing to say the least. I do not know about you, but Christmas through New Year’s vacation did not feel like much of a vacation. Over the last month or so now, I have had more anxiety attacks than ever before. To put that in context, before this last stent of attacks (four in the last three weeks), the last one that I had prior to was never.

The abnormality of this experience encouraged me to write this article on ways to reduce and hopefully relieve any anxiety that you may be experiencing at this time as well. I included stress in the title because feelings of anxiety are derivatives of a stressor(s) and the same techniques to help soothe a person’s anxiety can also help in managing their stress levels.

Unfortunately, there is an abundance of things for people to allow themselves to be stressed about. In addition to the Covid-19 vaccine dissemination debacle in the United States, there is also: the now three new strain variants of Covid, the failed disgraceful Coup attempt and siege on the United Sates Capitol, the multitude of American families facing financial ruin as unemployment numbers tick higher and more and more small businesses close indefinitely. There are millions of people around the world facing more aggressive lockdown orders and restrictions, and the political environment is becoming less and less favorable towards everyday people.

On the flip side of that coin, people are also rightfully concerned and anxious about their own wellbeing. If you are like me, then the top of a new year is a time to reflect and plan and set the trajectory for the course of your year. This can be an anxious endeavor in and of itself (it was for me), even more so when you consider the degree of ambiguity, we have all been forced to live with going into this year.

man wearing black cap with eyes closed under cloudy sky
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Anxiety stems from an incessant worrying. When your stressors become greater than your capacity to handle them, they will begin to weigh you down. This will take the shape of worry, uneasiness, nervousness, and apprehension. If these symptoms persist and exacerbate, they can lead to even greater symptoms such as restlessness, fatigue, loss of concentration, irritability, muscle tension, and sleep disturbances (difficulty falling or staying asleep) – symptoms more aligned with an anxiety disorder, or a panic disorder/attack. A preventative measure for combating anxiety and avoiding these symptoms is by monitoring your stress levels.

Our bodies tell [warn] us when something is not right with it. Your body reacts to the amount of stress that it is undertaking. By knowing your body and how it communicates with you, you can begin to identify when your stress levels may be high, and take the proper steps necessary to address the trigger(s) causing the destabilization of your equilibrium. Some high stress level indicators include: acne, headaches, getting sick easily/frequently, noticeable [drastic] change in diet, decreased sex drive, depleted energy, and digestive difficulties.

From my experiences, the last attacks that I have had were rooted in worry and apprehension. Over the last three weeks I was writing my life and business plans for the coming year; and at various points throughout that process, I allowed the stress of the prospects of my future (or lack thereof) to overwhelm me to the point of heart palpitations, mental and physical fatigue, and body temperature irregularities. The first time this happened, because of my mental health background, I was able to immediately identify that I was experiencing an anxiety attack, and I was able to lean on my knowledge of the subject to alleviate my disturbed mental state.

The following are my five ways [techniques] to relieve stress and anxiety: 

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How to Shift Your View on Success and Obtain it Regularly

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Do you have limiting beliefs that are inhibiting your ability to be the person you want to be? Have you ever wished that you had the same level of courage as someone else who is doing what you would like to be doing?

You can attain the level of success you desire. The word ‘des-ire’ means ‘of the Father’ meaning, that your desires would not have been put in you if they were not meant to be fulfilled through you.

You must overcome your mental barriers. Anything worth having is worth pursuing. The only way you fail is if you quit. Suspend your unbelief and start asking yourself “why not me and why not now?”. Can you envision your compelling future? Success is about living in the fullness of yourself and allowing your passions to inform your identity.

Keep your Eyes on the Prize

It is important to position yourself in a place where success is drawn to you. In challenging times it can be tough to see the light at the end of the tunnel; However, it is important to know that there is one there.

Sometimes the challenge we have in our pursuit of success is that we cannot see the forest for the trees. We get so caught up in our day to day that we lose our drive.

This is because we allow ourselves lose focus. You must know your “why”. Your why is your motivation, it is your hope; The reason you get out of bed every day.

The Power of a Breakthrough

Covid-19 has uprooted all of our lives to varying degrees. As such, it is your responsibility to yourself to see that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Your setbacks are just setups for your comebacks.

In those instances, you are in position to have a breakthrough!

A breakthrough is a sudden circumstance change in your favor. As a result, what was once impeding you is no longer opposition for you. Sometimes a breakthrough can materialize and sometimes it is a change in perspective. The value in a breakthrough is the impact it has on your perception. A breakthrough will renew your hope.

My breakthrough was realizing I had my number one commodity back in time after being laid off due to Covid-19; and that I never wanted to sell my time for less than what it is worth ever again.

What is that thing that you want to attain? And are you in a place to receive it? You shift your view on success by giving yourself the right to be successful.

“The Pursuit of Passion: How to Sequence your Life for Success” By Tiffany Jerome, was written for the purpose of helping you achieve success in your life. Success is subjective, and as an individual you know what you need. If you know that your life is not where you believe it should be, then this is the book for you. Click here to learn more about how you can purchase your copy today.

The Value of Gratitude

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You have to want yourself to achieve something. And that thing that you want to achieve should be in consideration of others. Gratitude is a key ingredient in perpetuating success.

Success is not money or things. Success is a character trait. I have become increasingly more thankful for the opportunities that I get to give and provide value to someone else.

Big victories are not big because of their scale and scope. Big victories are big because of the discipline that comes before the opportunity. The equation to success is hard work + luck.

When you are engaging in successful habits those habits will make room for you to encounter bigger opportunities to excel and serve others. The reality is, success does not come rapidly nor is it always grandiose, but it can come consistently.

Put Yourself in a Position to be Successful

Success is rooted in discipline.

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Most successful people start by make their bed everyday. Making your bed every day put’s you in a place to be successful because you will have already accomplished something before the day even starts.

If you can accomplish one task, it will make you more inclined to want to accomplish more.

And, while how you quantify your success should not be tethered in your ability to accomplish a task, the value of your success should be in the meaning of that task.

Why would a person find value in making their bed in the morning? Because at the very least, at the end of a long day you know you have a made bed waiting for you.

By shifting your focus from success that is rooted in results, to success that is rooted in disciplined activities and systems that lead to desired results; You will begin to see constant success, and will create for yourself opportunities to be successful on a larger scale.

We engage in generating consistent success for ourselves is by doing things that we are passionate about. If you are passionate about something the success will come.

Live with Passion

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Passion drives motivation, motivation drives discipline, and discipline drives success. I’ve never actively decided to put a system in place for something I had no interest in.

If someone is not willing to get better at something, it’s not a passion, it’s a past time.

Start making small yet intentional behavioral changes. For me that has looks like working out consistently, reading regularly, and creating space for the things I value. Also, utilize accountability partners to assist in keeping you on track and focused on growth.

Success is available to all of us, and we achieve it by first redefining it, and secondly, by adopting disciplined and intentional actions in areas of our lives that matter.

Let your passions drive you to a place of abundance and gratitude; and position you in a place to both receive and provide breakthrough opportunities.

Remember, there is a light at the end of the tunnel, the question is whether or not you are willing to pursue it.

Originally Published March 7, 2020

How to Improve your Quality of Sleep at Night

Do you have trouble falling asleep at night? Ever after a long arduous day, get in bed close your eyes and try to go to sleep? Just to realize five minutes in, that you are wide awake. Or maybe you fell asleep however, once you woke up in the morning you felt groggy and sluggish?

If you are like me, then you understand and appreciate the importance of sleep in your life. It is how we recharge our batteries, and it gives our body’s the time necessary to replenish itself.

The issue in relation to sleep are our habits leading up to and coming out of our slumbering experience. Here are some habits you can implement into your daily life that will bolster your sleep experience; enabling you to feel better rested and more energized to face each day head on:

Destroy your Alarm

Let’s start with what is probably going to be seen as the most controversial. If you want to improve your quality of sleep, stop using your alarm. Firstly, the value of an alarm is questionable at best.

More than half of people hit their snooze button at least once. 27% of people feel a sense of anxiety at the sound of their alarm. Less than one percent of people actually feel awake and well rested when their alarm goes off.

In short, alarms are not the most beneficial to your material well-being. Additionally, most people use a phone to set their alarm. Looking at a screen before bed does not help with achieving a restful sleep.

If you need to be up for work, try going to bed notably earlier than normal. Allow yourself time to wake up naturally. Additionally, if you must have an alarm, be intentional in only setting one with no need to press the snooze button.

You can also change the sound of your alarm. If you are among the iPhone user population in particular, you know how dreadfully awful the radar ring sound is. Try changing the ring tone to something more tranquil. This applies to most alarms (not just iPhone), and doing so facilitates a healthy and exhilarating waking experience. As opposed to one that will cause your heart to palpitate.

The bottom line is, you want your alarm to work with you not against you. You do not need an alarm to wake you up for your passions. I would suggest, that if you feel you need multitude of alarms, then there maybe something in your life sapping too much energy from you. Identify the energy vampire in your life and do what you can to remove it/reduce its impact.

Avoid Eating Before Bed

Another pitfall people may find themselves in is eating late/close to bedtime. This can be detrimental to your quality of sleep. After you eat your body starts to metabolize what it is that you just ate. When your body is in a metabolic state it cannot properly prepare itself for slumber. You need energy necessary to process food, which will detract from a restful night sleep.

By eating before bed you also risk weight gain and potential for other health problems.

One thing you can do to mitigate this issue is to be intentional about your snacking habits. If you find yourself hungry after dinner and its late in the evening, before you reach for the chocolate-chip cookies, or the tub of ice cream, try having some healthy alternatives on hand instead.

The problem with eating foods that are high in carbs and sugars at night is that they take longer for your body to digest and could disrupt your sleep pattern. Not to mention, that you run the risk of binge eating, or eating more than originally intended. Using a bag of chips for example: one chip can turn to 10 can turn to 30 really quickly.

Your best bet for bedtime snacks includes vegetables, healthy nuts like almonds or walnuts, avocados, black berries, straw berries, and blue berries, or any other low carb, high healthy fat, high protein option. Additionally, water is your best friend. You should be drinking on average at least 13.5 cups of water a day up to two hours before bedtime.

Another good rule of thumb is to make a consorted effort in making your last main meal of the day (dinner) no less than three hours before your bedtime. If preferable, you can also introduce an intermittent fasting schedule into your diet as well to help reign in those renegade cravings.

Utilize Sleep Supplements

Before I talk about good sleep aid supplements, I want to first address things that you might be ingesting that are not helpful for your sleep – an obvious one being caffeine. While caffeine has a multitude of benefits, those helpful traits do not extend into bedtime. Having something that is caffeinated too close to bedtime can drastically reduce your quality of sleep.

Coffee, energy drinks, sodas, caffeinated teas, and dark chocolate are all things that you should avoid up to eight hours before bedtime. In a study, people who consumed caffeine within six hours before sleep identified with having a significantly diminished quality of sleep. It is recommended that you avoid coffee and other highly caffeinated food past 4pm to ensure a good night’s rest.

Another thing that should be avoided to promote a restful night of sleep is alcohol. Alcohol before bed increases symptoms of sleep apnea, snoring, and irregular sleep patterns.

Now on to the good stuff, what sleep aids are beneficial to sleep? There are several supplements that can relax you and help you fall asleep including: glycine, magnesium, L-theanine, and lavender. Chief among these supplements however is melatonin.

Melatonin is a hormone that encourages sleep in our body. It is a rather useful supplement that has proven affects. In one study, it was found that 2 mgs of melatonin before bed leads to a better quality of sleep during the night and a feeling of being well rested and more energized in the morning. Melatonin can also help you fall asleep faster.

In most places’ melatonin is an over the counter drug, that can be acquired at nearly any store/supermarket.

Perfect Your Sleep Environment

Another way to improve your quality of sleep is to make sure that you are sleeping in optimal conditions. This means that you are sleeping in a cooler environment that is both soothing and relaxing. It also means that you have quality sheets and blankets, and a set of good pillows, all adorning a comfortable mattress.

By setting your room to a cooler temperature when you sleep, you are allowing your body to utilize less energy while sleeping. Our body’s temperature naturally drops during bedtime so by facilitating that process, you encourage your body to fall asleep sooner and more deeply.

Having a good set of sheets, blankets, and pillows should be a no brainer when it comes to getting high quality sleep. Being equipped with these things are vital to ensuring your comfort. The goal is to combat anything that would detract from your overall sleep experience and having materials on your bed that may make you uncomfortable will impede you from getting a good night’s rest.

The same goes for your mattress. You want to make sure that you have a mattress that is complementary to your body. Make sure that you have something supportive that does not irritate the normal pressure points on a human’s body. You also want to be attentive to the positioning of your spine while you sleep as to detract from additional discomforts. If your mattress is not the best, there are several memory foam and mattress cover products you can purchase and put over your bed to increase its comfort level.

As a general rule of thumb, make sure your pillows are not overused meaning flat and lacking buoyancy. And on average, you should be changing your sheets every two weeks to ensure freshness, and that wonderful crisp feeling you get when laying in a clean and inviting bed.

Take Your Clothes Off

Lastly, to ensure a better quality of sleep, I encourage you to take your clothes off. At first glance this one is obviously a little racy however, there is science and logic behind this tip as well.  Sleeping in a cool environment not only helps you sleep better, but it also has a multitude of other health benefits that include: anti-aging, increased melatonin levels, weight loss, enhanced mood, and reduced stress.

Sleeping while naked will improve your body temperature regulation allowing your body to cool down during bedtime. Having a lower body temperature during sleep will help you fall asleep quicker and easier.

Good quality sleep is all about being comfortable. By doing what is outlined in this post you will be intentionally helping yourself get a good night’s rest. A good night of deep sleep is invaluable. Having such sleep continually improves your immune system, prevents weight gain, improves memory, and increases productivity and overall mood.

Health is wealth, so ensure your wealth and your legacy by making sure that you are getting a good night’s sleep regularly. Good sleep is not a luxury, it is for you too, and I hope you start taking advantage of it every night.