Saturday, December 5, 2015

How do we fix us?

It’s Sunday Morning and I am sitting in bed with a pillow propped up against my back with my computer on my lap writing.  It’s a wonderful feeling considering I haven’t had the urge to write for months.  For some reason, today, I felt the need to write about a question that has been turning in my mind; revolving like a very slow moving carousel. I’ve been wondering if it is at all possible to fix us as both a race of people as well as a society.  

I’m not sure because even though the question in and of itself is simple enough, the answer is so complex and there are so many moving components to the resolution that you have to wonder if we could ever begin such a mass undertaking as a healing of the self – which is not to be confused with self preservation.

Healing of the self begins with the acknowledgement that something is wrong…that perhaps something is out of place or not working the way it should.  Most of us are very slow to admit that there may be something now quite right with ourselves because many of us have external sources that will do that for us, whether justified or unjustified.  We have no desire to add to the demolition of our own self esteem by coming clean with our own defects of character.  It's easier for us to look at others and perhaps condemn them the same way that we have been condemned.  And in the course of that condemnation, we build ourselves up because we don’t have to blame ourselves for our own misgivings.  Instead, we can look at our neighbor and tell others what they are doing wrong, whether it is how they are living their lives, raising their children or claiming their self-worth, regardless of the facts being founded in truth or embellishment.

When we do this, we open the door to all of the things that we claim to despise but revel in nonetheless.  We don’t love as we should, protect as we should or give as we should…but we want to be protected, given to and loved. 

We act as if we as individuals are the only ones that are entitled to the gifts that this world has to offer; oftentimes forgetting that what we have is simply on loan to us…that there is no way that we can take it with us when we die.  We have become a materialistic people, reveling in all of the accomplishments that we have made as members of the human race while forgetting that some us do not and perhaps never will have as much as we have right now at this very moment.

We struggle, but in that struggle we have forgotten how to love, cherish, honor, obey and yes, become immersed in the act of servitude because part of the joy of being human is to lift up others if at all possible.  But since no one is doing this for us as individuals, how can we possibly do that for someone else?

Our priorities have shifted from others, to us, to only me and we have adopted the attitude that ‘I will survive at any cost’, even if it means stepping on someone in the interim.  For many of us, this is life.  Take it or leave it, like it or love it, this is who we have become.  

Giving has taken a back seat to taking and taking has become commonplace.  If we aren’t taking for ourselves we are taking for our families, and it is in this that we claim that we love them.  So how do we fix us?  How do we fix the broken, battered and betrayed?

How do we move past hurts that have been inflicted on us to the point that the hurt becomes a part of who and what we are; and in that comes the possibility that we may inadvertently pass on that hurt to someone else.   Can we begin to heal the damage that has been done to us or are we doomed to repeat the mistakes that the generations before us have made?

In a heartfelt conversation that I had with my father, he had told me that no one in his family had ever told him that they loved him.  He only knew strict discipline and was subject to many a behind whipping.  As a result, he grew up to be a man who continually placed himself first because he had never known what it was like to have that done for him.  I often wonder what he would have been like had he just been shown love in its basic form.  At what point do we say that we will no longer carry the sins of our fathers (and mothers?)  At what point will we say that I want to love and protect my children better than my parents protected me?  At what point will we begin to give so that we can open the door to receive?  Is it possible for us to learn that the healing first begins with the smallest of steps, but in order to take that step, you have to look in the mirror and embrace what is not so perfect instead of hiding behind the illusion that we are, and then start from there because that is where it all begins?

As previously stated, we can begin to fix us, but the fixing only starts with us as an individual.  Our society has to be adjusted to accept and embrace the differences that have made us unique and wondrous.  Fixing the broken is so much more than internal correction.  It entails each and every person of every race, creed and national origin to let go of what they thought was right and implement what they know to be right.

This isn’t easy because for some of us, it entails undoing much of what we had been taught.  But right is after all right, and wrong is wrong.  How do we fix us?  

It starts with taking a first step…putting one foot in front of the other.  Sadly, many people are comfortable right where they are.

And that is a major part of the problem.

J.L. Whitehead

Saturday, November 7, 2015

One in Six

One out of every six males in this country have been the victims of molestation.  Those are the statistics that I have found while conducting the research for my book, "One in Six...45 Years of Dark." 

Personally I think that the rates are higher since men overall don't talk about issues like molestation.  Men as a rule do not identify with being a victim or least not when it comes to sex.

Even now, I don't identify with being a survivor.  I don't feel comfortable with that label.  Instead, I choose to believe that what happened to me between the ages of six and fourteen is something that occurred and that it shaped me into becoming who I am today.

When I decided to write this book, initially, I wanted to share my story in the hopes that someone would see themselves in certain aspects of my life.  I thought that maybe if I told  what happened to me and give my readers a window seat into my psyche as I became a man, it may provide them with a rule of thought that may explain why they may think and act the way they do.

Molestation is an ugly topic.  It's a topic that we shy away from as a society because we don't want to believe that this happens so often in a land of freedom and abundance.  We want to believe that the problem isn't as prevalent as it is or that it perhaps happens to a group that is demographically far from our ourselves. 

We may believe that molestation happens to economically challenged groups.  But like domestic violence, molestation happens in all aspects of society.  It happens to the poor and wealthy alike.  It happens to one in every six males, regardless of race, creed, religious affiliation, social status or sexual orientation.

Men of color don't talk about this.  Gay men of color may talk about what happened to them and in certain instances may wear what occurred as a badge of honor instead of thinking that something inside of them has been permanently altered.

After all, for a gay man, it is natural to sleep with a member of the same sex just like it is normal for a heterosexual male to sleep with a woman.  But regardless of the orientation of the victim or their willingness to participate in the activity, once you have sex with an adult, the trajectory of who you would have been has been altered...permanently.

And with that change comes other behaviors that may not be easily recognizable as defects of character.  Instead, it may be dismissed as behaviors attributed to something as simple as the person being who they are at that time.

Knowledge is power.  Once you know what is going on with you, you are equipped to change behaviors that may be detrimental to who you are as well as who you hope to become.

My story is coming...with all of it's tragedies, disappointments and triumphs.  Some of you may see glimpses of yourself in my words.  Some of you may not.  But on the maybe that you do, hopefully it will help you understand why you do the things you do and think the way you think.

Because as I said before, knowledge is power!

J.L. Whitehead

Sunday, August 2, 2015

How to market your book when you self publish!

So you've written your book!  It's been edited and you're happy with the final product.  If you're like most of us, you don't have the backing of a publishing house that will take care of the promotional aspect of your work.  You want to put your book out there but you're not sure where to begin.

What do you do?

Well, first off, ask yourself why you wrote your book.  Who did you write the book for?  Who will read your book...or rather, who do you hope will read your book?  And before you answer that question, don't say "everyone."

Everyone will not read your book.  That's the simple matter how well your manuscript is written.  With that knowledge, acknowledge who WILL read your book and aim your promotional efforts at them.

Your promotional efforts should be done in stages.  After you've established who will read your book, find out where your audience congregate.

For instance, if you've written a book on self-help, wouldn't it make sense to reach out to organizations that would welcome your expertise?  Those organizations (and let's use mental health as an example) may provide you with some information that would prove to be invaluable as to where you can begin the promotion process.

Keep in mind that every organization may not be willing to speak with you, but the more times you try, the greater the chances are that one will be willing to give you some time.  They may even want to offer you a platform to speak about the topic of your work assuming that you've made a good case as to why you are qualified to write the book that you did.

Be armed with cards that will have your contact information.  If you have copies of your book on hand, be prepared to give away a few to those organizations so that they can see your work up close and personal.  While doing this, you should also be willing to create a buzz about your work by investing in yourself and taking out some space in local publications in the media including their Facebook page (once you have gained their permission to do so of course.)

Send them your press release.  See if they will be willing to give you a spot on their website and then blast this out to your following on your blog, website and Facebook page.

This is laying the ground work for your book.

Once you've done this, arrange for your official book release party and invite those same organizations to the event!

Your reach may be different and you may change or tweek your efforts depending on the subject matter of your work.  But you get my idea.

I wish you luck and remember, doing nothing gets you nothing...doing something may get you results!

J.L. Whitehead

The Legacy Diner

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