Let’s Talk About Gratitude

The other day I had the privilege of sitting in on an intimate luncheon event at MTV for Hispanic Heritage Month, which featured an interactive chat with the network’s resident chica Melanie Iglesias, star of Guy Code/Girl Code/Guy Court.

In addition to being a presence on approximately nine thousand MTV shows, Melanie is a freaking hottie. Such a hottie, in fact, that her initial break into the entertainment industry happened as a result of being selected by Maxim magazine out of 7,000 girls as the #1 Hometown Hottie of 2010. The woman is stunning.

I mean, see for yourself:

Ignore my weirdness and just focus on the beautiful woman, please.

Ignore my weirdness and just focus on the beautiful woman, please.

In spite of this fact, though — because let’s face it, I’m the gayest man ever and so female hotness can only go so far in terms of winning my admiration — what I like most about Melanie is her relentlessly positive spirit and overall #GoodEnergy.

When asked about how she maintains a consistent level of happiness, she shared that she is simply “grateful to be healthy and alive,” and then questioned how someone could manage to not be happy when approaching every day from such a place of gratitude. She also talked about how we’re all a part of something much larger than ourselves, at which point you know I had to ask her if she was spiritual and/or into meditation.

Interestingly, though not a meditator, she did share that she believes we are all here for a specific purpose, and that her end-of-the-day mission is to contribute to the betterment of humanity in any way and on any level she can — which totally kind of proves that she’s intuitively spiritual anyways, which, don’t you just wish more celebrities were like that?

Spirituality aside, though, Melanie’s initial statement about the correlation between gratitude and happiness resonated with me. It brought me back to a positive place after having gotten a little off track lately.

As a Super Soul Sunday disciple and perpetual seeker, I’ve read and watched quite a bit on the topic of gratitude. I’ve practiced it, too. And, as cliché as it may sound, I have found it to be the most effective way to get over pretty much any negative energy that may manage to creep its way into our consciousness every now and then. And as if that weren’t enough, the universe typically rewards those who are genuinely grateful for what they have now with more to be grateful for later. It’s just like, a law.

So with all of this in mind, I’d like to share a ridiculously small (or just plain ridiculous, whatever) list of things I’m grateful for right now:

  • Pumpkins.
  • The tree outside my apartment window.
  • Mariah Carey’s life-changing 1997 masterpiece album Butterfly.
  • My incredible support system of family and friends and yes, I’m being that guy right now.
  • Clarity.
  • All the life basics. (Seriously, how blessed are we simply to have health and homes and food and, like, water? That alone is pretty much enough for me to be all, “Sit your ass down, Nic,” every time I’m tempted to spiral into a rejection-fueled pity party of any kind.)
  • Cardio. When I actually do it.
  • My brother and his fiancée, and the fact that I’m going to Best Man the shit out of their wedding in January.
  • Books. ALL the books.
  • This photo of Jake Shears. (Note: If your boss happens to be a total dick, then this may be construed as NSFW. But if your boss isn’t a total dick, then please click, enjoy, and thank me/Jake later.)
  • Oprah.
  • Oprah.com.
  • OWN, the Oprah Winfrey Network.
  • O, the Oprah Magazine.
  • O-K, I’m done now. (See what I did there?)
  • Singer/Songwriter/my friend Joey, whose recent Facebook post on what he’s grateful for totally conspired with the Melanie lunch to inspire this post. Thanks, Joey!
  • The Bloggess.
  • Cheesecake.
  • Anything cute.

Last but really totally first, I’m grateful for y’all. For reading me, putting up with me, encouraging me, and supporting me. Especially when I’m freaking blog-M.I.A. half the damn time. Your love is honestly just… like, seriously. Thank you.

OK so before I start crying and having a totally uncalled for “I LOVE YOU SO MUCH AND I DON’T KNOW HOW TO DEAL WITH ALL OF THESE EMOTIONS I JUST LOVE YOU OMG OPRAH SAVE ME” moment, please jump in.

What are you grateful for today?

 

Advertisements

My Spiritual Evolution Continues After a Debit Card Debacle in New Hampshire

So, it has been exactly one month and ten days since my last confession blog post.

…I know, right? WHERE THE HELL HAVE I BEEN?

Well, the answer is threefold: (1) in my kitchen eating copious amounts of pepperoncini straight from the jar, (2) on suburban Connecticut streets taking long meditative after-dinner walks, and (3) in New Hampshire getting druuunk vacationing respectably.

A few things on all of the above:

1) My pepperoncini problem has evolved into a full-blown addiction. It’s rather serious. BUT THEY’RE SO DAMN GOOD AND I REFUSE TO STOP SO LEAVE ME ALONE.

2) Meditative walks are the best when they include occasional stray segments that involve aimlessly dancing and marching at the same time—ethereally and while listening to Stevie Nicks, of course. (Seriously, I do this. In public. As cars drive by. And? It’s fucking liberating.)

Officially returning from my Twitter sojourn. Inspiration? I danced ethereally to Stevie Nicks on my meditative walk tonight.

— Nicolas DiDomizio (@ctnicolas) July 9, 2013

3) New Hampshire was kind of the shit. That is, until I checked my bank account balance on the second day and learned that some douche bag stole my debit card number and made $600 of unauthorized purchases at a random Stop & Shop in Bloomfield, CT. Then it just became shit—absent of the all-modifying “the.” BUT THEN. After about an hour of being pissed off, I took a deep breath. Then I meditated. And then it became clear that I needed to forgive. Forgive the douche bag. Because if his/her life is in a desperate enough place to be stealing from fledgling bloggers and pepperoncini addicts such as myself, then he/she is in need of some serious healing. So rather than continue being unproductively angry, I decided to just say a prayer for my debit card thief’s well-being and move on with my life.

So, yeah! I’m now praying for the healing of random douche bags who illegally siphon money from my checking account. If that’s not solid evidence of my spiritual growth, y’all, then I do not know what is.

Namaste.

 

I Wore My Pedometer to the Club and Took 10,000 Steps in the Name of Love

My company participates in this program where we get paid little mini-bonuses for wearing work-sponsored pedometers and taking steps. Something about having healthy, active employees and saving on insurance costs? IDK, but I love free money – so I have of course been wearing it on the regular and taking all kinds of superfluous steps whenever possible because in the back of my mind I’m always like, Dude, you can wait for a parking spot that’s twenty feet closer to the Cheesecake Factory Vitamin Shoppe, or you can take the crappy space, burn some calories, and make a extra buck while you’re at it. WHAT’S IT GONNA BE, FATTY?

(Then I cancel that last thought out because calling myself fat is a result of fear-based thinking, and I’m so over fear-based thinking, and have I mentioned that I’m super fit?)

Anyway. This past Saturday, I strapped on my pedometer along with my favorite pair of Banana Republic khakis and attended a charity event at my alma mater thrown by my one of my best friends.

It was freakin’ awesome for three reasons.

  1. I love supporting good causes – especially when supporting a good cause involves going back to the school where I lost my virginity, thereby leading me into a whole self-reflective, forgiving, aware-of-my-incredible-growth-over-the-past-seven-years space. (So basically I love supporting good causes when I get to remove the cause itself from the equation and make the experience all about me… This could be the mark of a horrible person, but I’m not going to go down that road.)
  2. There was a MASHED PO-TINI BAR. This involves martini glasses, mashed potatoes, and a heart-unhealthy selection of toppings (sour cream, bacon, cheese, chili, shame, etc.) – like a salad bar only more delicious and with a corny pun. Mashed po-tinis are amazing, and can we make them a thing like, immediately? #mashedpotini.
  3. It was a loving, healing, and just plain ol’ fun time. I saw old college friends, danced to big band music, and witnessed an a cappella group sing the best song ever – “Always Be My Baby” by Mariah Carey, obviously – which was cosmically perfect because it just so happens that we’re about to have a cicada season in Connecticut.

If you don’t know about cicadas, then (one) I envy you, and (two) they are loud, gross-looking bugs that only emerge every 17 years and wreak havoc for two weeks until they die again.

The last time we had cicadas, I was eight years old. It was 1996 and I was obsessed with Mariah’s Daydream album. I distinctly remember watching the video for “Always Be My Baby” and wondering where all the cicadas were in the woodsy, marshy area she seemed to be so comfortably frolicking in. (I was pretty much an eight-year-old version of the Wendy’s “Wheeere’s the beef?” lady, except I was all “Wheeere’re the cicadas?!”)

So for the past week, in anticipation of the locust-like creatures, I’ve been going on nightly after-dinner walks reflecting on my early years and listening to “Always Be My Baby” while paying honor to my inner child. So when the a cappella group randomly chose to sing that song of ALL songs on Saturday, it was one of those incredible moments that would seem like no big deal to most people but to me was most definitely God being all like, “Whassup Nic?

In short, this event made me feel all kinds of love. And I’ve been feeling all kinds of love all the time lately. And when I’m feeling all kinds of love, I kind of just want to dance. So I did something crazy on my way home that night – I stopped at a gay club.

Alone.

I sat in the parking lot for two minutes before going in, telling myself that I was there for one reason only: to shake my groove thang. No expectations, no need to seek validation from anyone, no irrational ego-based fears of being judged – just me standing – make that dancing – in my truth.

And I did it! I held it down on the floor song after song, having my very own self-loving private party – except totally in public. It was kind of the best thing ever.

Interestingly enough, it seemed that my whole loving energy field actually drew people to me, most of whom I shared only a brief moment or two with until deciding that I wanted to keep rocking out on my own.

Then there was this one handsome gentleman who kept making his way back to me despite my noncommittal demeanor towards dance floor location. I finally just embraced his energy and we communicated in this crazy, wordless way that I kind of knew was probably only sexual on his part. Still, I was willing to overlook it in an effort to view him as the innocent child that he once was (this is a fun game I’ve been playing with everyone I meet lately… it’s especially effective with mean people). My mind wandered, and I found myself wondering where he was during the 1996 cicada invasion.

Then, seemingly out of nowhere, he tried to kiss me. While the old Nic would have probably been like “Scooore! Maybe we can get married?” I decided to be the new Nic in this moment. [KEY CHANGE ALERT!]

I politely turned my head, coughed laughed, and yelled to him that I was “just here to dance, but you’re really cute!”

It was the truth. I wasn’t there to make out with random dudes; I was just there to dance – and, in a broader sense, to love myself.

And so that’s what I did – step by step, one step at a time, 10,000 pedometer-counted times. (Cha-ching!)

Screen shot 2013-05-07 at 6.31.55 AM

*This is a photo I found on a bar’s website from many years ago. Look at baby Nic being all intense and dance-y! Also, the year was 2010. Do you love how warped my sense of time is?

No Fear, Lots of Love, and Maybe a Tunic

Here’s an instant message conversation that took place between my work-wife Mila and me the other day:

  • Mila: I’m wearing sunglasses today because I feel like a rock star for once.
  • Nic: You are a rock star always! Speaking of sun and glasses, I see the light of God in you.
  • Mila: I just want you to know that lately I’ve been picturing you wearing a white tunic when you say all of these positive things to me.
  • Nic: LOL.
  • Mila: Seriously dude. A white tunic.

She has a point. A white tunic would really compliment my holistic demeanor as of late. I’ve been all about positivity. Which means I’ve been all about my spiritual journey. Which means I’ve been all about love. Which means I’ve been thinking things like, Damn. It’s such a shame that the word “love” is as abused as it is these days.

In addition to abused: overused, diluted, undervalued, demeaned, clichéd, misunderstood.

I’ve misunderstood the concept of love for, I don’t know, about 25 of my 25 years here on Earth. But the other day I was listening to an India.Arie song called “The Wings of Forgiveness,” and thought to myself, Wow, she gets it.

Then I was all, OMG does that mean I get it?

I don’t know if I’m totally there yet, but I’m amazed at just how much perspective I’ve gained over the past few months. I’m well on my way.

I owe much of this to the fact that I’ve been reading Marianne Williamson’s seminal New Age-y masterpiece, A Return to Love every night during American Idol commercial breaks while sipping on herbal tea and donning a peaceful and enlightened half-smile. (You’re picturing me in that tunic right now, aren’t you?)

931407_760218704042_967155899_n

…But for real, though.

There’s no way I could characterize the power of this book (which is based on the insanely long yet insanely the-answer-to-everything-ever-ish spiritual textbook A Course In Miracles) in a little ol’ Keychanges blog post, but if there’s one principle I’d say has resonated strongly with me it’s that love is the exact opposite of fear. Love is a thing, and fear is so not a thing, but fear is the root of pretty much all negative things, and negative things aren’t actually things at all in the first place, because love is THE ONLY THING.

Have I lost you yet?

…THING!

What I mean to say here is that love is real and everything else is an illusion based on fear. Our egos are nothing more than fear, blocking us from getting to the love that we often don’t allow ourselves to step into.

So the road to happiness and honestly loving ourselves and others involves recognizing and letting go of these fears.

(Now think about THAT for a second.)

(…Deep, huh?)

More often than not, letting go of fear means truly, truly forgiving people – including our parents, ideal-shattering ex-boyfriends, those who’ve called us fat, ourselves, etc. It’s not easy, but it’s powerful.

I’ve already started stopping myself in the midst of my every day situations to close my eyes and say, “Hold the phone, brother Nic. [Yes, I’m referring to myself as my own brother. IDK, it kinda works?] Are you reacting with fear or love right now? FEAR OR LOVE? YOU CAN’T HAVE BOTH!”

And then I breathe. And then I forgive someone.

And then I choose love.

 

I Think This is Called Growth

So, I have missed blogging. And Keychanges. And y’all. And Debelah Morgan, singer of the infectiously feel-good 2000 pop hit, “Dance With Me,” but that’s for another post.

Despite my blog-homesickness, my recent month-long sojourn has been crazy productive, and I’m as excited as a Leprechaun in a pot o’ gold (…I don’t even know) to write about what’s been happening in my life. Remember how at the beginning of the year I went all No Fool, No More (shout-out En Vogue!) on the Internet and wrote about how I’d be officially giving up unavailable men? Well, I’m currently four months strong. As my mom would say, Holla!

I’ve been in a very self-loving, self-improving, self-awesome space lately – which actually led to me inadvertently giving up all men – yet another reason for my blogging absence. Writing about desperation, food addiction, and general inadequacy? That’s so 2012!

So far this year I’ve realized that a) I’m pretty much amazing, b) I’m not fat, and c) I may not want a relationship right now after all. And I certainly don’t need one.

Talk about some freakin’ key changes – am I right?

After all of the absurdity I’ve documented here on my tumultuous search for post-grad-school love, I’ve finally started to look within – something I used to vehemently avoid, as I found the concept of self-love to be impossible and stupid and only for self-important, self-absorbed douchebags.

Like most good things, my journey toward self-love began with Oprah. Her Super Soul Sunday series will really make you think about shit. As a result of watching it, I’ve identified elements of society, my past, etc. that have all resulted in thought and action patterns that weren’t doing me any damn favors on my search for fulfillment. I recognized that a lot of my issues were with other gay folk – so rather than continue to cast myself in the role of “outcast” in our sometimes tragically anti-community community, I decided to write another piece for the Advocate that addresses how we can all use self-love and vulnerability to grow stronger together.

Read it HERE! But be sure to come back home to momma Oprah my blog when you’re done.

With my proclamation came lots of anti-Oprah vitriol from people who didn’t even bother to read the piece – lest they get a strong dose of truth and consequently melt or something – which pretty much hilariously proved my point in the article about how we need to stop being assholes and just start transmitting vibrations of love rather than superiority.

But thankfully, the piece also proved that there are some really, really great gay dudes out there who totally “get it.”

Like this guy Stephen (ignore Karl, he was having a bad day):

Screen shot 2013-04-13 at 11.18.00 AM

Or like the many others who took the time to e-mail, message, or tweet me with anecdotes about how the article resonated with them. It was inspiring, and felt great to have feedback that was more along the lines of “Wow – powerful message. Thank you for that!” rather than my usual supportive feedback which tends to be more of an admittedly baited, “You’re not fat!” (But I mean, please don’t stop with those – that phrase is music to my slightly obese — kidding! — ears and I obviously can’t hear it enough.)

Speaking of fatness – while I inadvertently gave up men, I also inadvertently lost ten pounds! Well, not totally inadvertently – I did start going to the gym five days a week and eating healthier, but it was more so because I realized that endorphins make me happy and less so because some guy struggling with his own myriad body and emotional issues told me to.

So, yeah. Things are going pretty well these days. And I guess that’s all I’m trying to say with this post – life is good, I love you all, and I’m still wholly devoted to and grateful for blogging and this blog and your blogs and, really, the word “blog” in general. Blog.

Blog!

 

%d bloggers like this: