The stigma, and what you can do as a man

As men we are taught at a young age to just "suck it up" and keep moving.  Don't worry about feeling, just build, conquer,  and thats what we do.  We become these warriors, and lock up our feelings and go out and get things done.  The ones that couldn't, that felt more than the average man, were branded sissy's, cry babies, made to feel less than a man.  Often time made fun of and isolated from groups, 

Society has changed, where we as men are supposed to feel more and we don't know how to deal with that.  We don't know how to cope with that and we are losing our edge.  We can see this by the lack of leadership we are seeing in our communities. We see the spike in anxiety and depression among men.  Where our veterans, 22 a day are choosing to end their lives because of what they experienced but how they can not deal with the emotions.  

What can we do to prevent this from happening?  There isn't any real symptoms that you can visibly see unless the person is going through an episode.  It's not like a physical disease that you show symptoms on the outside, everything is internal, mental.  Some people think it's like a switch that you can turn on and off, and it's not.  You can't just think it away, it takes a change in your consciousness and visual ability to see through it.  

Recently we lost Anthony Bourdain to suicide and like many of those who do so, never showed signs of wanting to do such a thing.  Chester Bennington also took his own life only a year ago, and hours before he did, he was filmed laughing with his family having a good time.  You would never have thought that he was suffering that much.  I personally had a good friend commit suicide and never in a million years would I have thought he of all people would've done that.  Here is the trend, as men we do not know how to cope with the influx of feelings that we were never taught to feel for in the first place.

I myself suffer from severe anxiety, and it only takes something small to trigger it, but how I control it is through several techniques and outlets.  Like I said, it isn't a switch that you can just turn off,  so I had to train my mind to focus on what would calm me down.  You have to reprogram your mind and understand that you can overcome this.  Lean on the people that love you the most, and if you don't have anyone that you can rely on, do something constructive.  Something that you are passionate about, something that makes you feel valued.  

Many times its that feeling of being useless is what drives those feelings, and trying to repress them only leads to depression, so find what you are passionate about and realize that you are valuable.  You are not alone in this, and once you can overcome that feeling and realize that truth, you will overcome this!  You are made in God's image and you are destines for extraordinary things.  Remember, YOU ARE NOT ALONE! 

6 Months after the divorce, what's new?

  In the past 6 months a lot has happened, a lot has changed, and I am still here beating the odds.  Right now I should be as statistic from all intensive purposes.  As I have stated in my previous blog, men are 3X's more likely to commit suicide after or during a divorce.  What I wasn't prepared for was the constant anxiety and depression that sets in after the fact.  The triggers of constant harassment from others who just want to start trouble, people who have nothing else better to do but try and portray a life of mediocrity that they are proud of and try to push you beneath them. 

  The military has prepared me for a lot of things, I can survive out in the wilderness, I can survive a hostage crisis, I can deal with a high stress environment and achieve maximum success.  What they didn't prepare me was for dealing with the anxiety and depression on a level that can be at times debilitating.  It can be so bad, that this is where most men tend to lose their minds and where the darkest thoughts will creep in and tragedy happens.

  This is where men feel at their most vulnerable, most weak because life seems to be spiraling out of control.  I read a story where a young airman back in March of this year had taken the lives of his family before calling 911 and telling the dispatcher what he had just done, and was about to do.  He ended his life because the anxiety of the impending dynamic of the change in family life was about to happen, and he thought his only way to keep his family together was to end everyones life.  I know some people may blame him because it was his choice, and you are partially correct.  He did choose his own path, but like many other men who see no way out because of many reasons including drugs, alcohol, and other abuses.  

  As men, we aren't taught how to deal with the changes that come with separation and divorce.  As men we have a stigma of just having to deal with it, keep working, but no one realizes all of the burdens that we as men have to deal with.  The financial burdens alone can be devastating, and men do have a bond with their children and go from seeing them on a daily basis to sometimes only seeing them twice a month.  That psychological affect is devastating!  I have been trained to deal with separation during a deployment, and even though its always hard to leave your family for an extended period of time, its completely different when divorce happens.

  When you deploy you expect to come back home, when you divorce it's like a death, but the person and the family unit are still there and you mourn, except it's broken.  I mourn my family everyday, and when I get harassed as if I were the cause of my marriage to end, it puts me in a place where I become depressed.  I relive the pain all over again, and I can see why some men just want out.  I am blessed that I have a support group of other men, and friends, family, but we aren't all so lucky.  As men, we take on that burden and feel it is only ours to bear, and that burden is often times too heavy to carry.  

  What is new is that I realized how much pain there actually is among men.  How much burden is placed on them and we actually do not realize it.  So many men have taken a way out that truly shouldn't have even been an option.  If they knew what pain and chaos is left in their wake, I truly do believe that they would think twice.  What is new is my reemergence in my faith, which is my bedrock.  Matthew 11:28-30 28 Come to me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentile and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST IN YOUR SOULS. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light

  Those verses right there is what many men need to hear.  We need our burdens lightened so we can see the way out.  That yoke that is around our necks becomes so heavy that we feel the only way to break free is by ending all the pain.  So what can you do? Always look for the signs.  The signs of a person being sheltered, or withdrawn.  Lack of sleep or too much it.  Talk of just ending it, and checking out.  Not all signs are going to be glaring like red paint on a white wall.  Offer more than just a quick, hey how are you, offer an outlet.  Go out and enjoy the day, show them that there is more to live for.  Worship with them, comfort them, let them know its ok to cry and feel the way they do.  Give them hope.

  The other day I read about a man who executed his family over financial problems and an impending divorce, even though two of his daughters got away, no one in the neighborhood even knew what was going on.  Don't impose yourself, but always make it known that your door is always open.  Men, you aren't alone, and you shouldn't ever feel that way.  I have learned that the stigma of mental health and of what society deems a man would be are very heavy burdens, and we need to change that.  Offer your time and effort those who are struggling, because you never know, you just might save a life, or a family.  

  

Making moves!...a look at single parents creating wealth.

As an entrepreneur you can't help but look at the industry as a whole and see who is doing what, and is it working.  Myself, I love to learn more about other entrepreneurs because it just helps me go out and become better at it myself.  It helps me stay on the cutting edge of what is happening but also how I can help my readers and followers.  One such force that I honestly believe doesn't get much attention are single moms and moms in general.  Being a parent is tough, and being a single parent, mom or dad, is especially tough.

Today I am focusing on single moms and my next blog I will focus on the dad side, and then I will focus on the dynamics of what it takes and the driving force behind single parents looking to go out and strike it out on their own.  For women times have changed a lot since the middle of the century.  You don't have the traditional two parent homes, and according to Pew Research Center 25% of families are headed by a single mom, and 40% of babies born in the United States are born to single mothers.

Yea, I know, kinda depressing but there is some awesome news.  According to the GEM 2016/2017 Women's Report 163 MILLION...yes MILLION women started businesses around the world.  There are 38 million home based businesses in the U.S....thats one business started every 12 seconds!  Now I can hear you thinking, well thats a lot of businesses and how am I going to make any money?  $427 BILLION...yes BILLION dollars have been generated per year.  Thats a ton of cash and you can get in on this.  20% of those businesses make over $100-500K per year!!  

I don't know about you but I think that is plenty to go around.  Now in all of this there are several types of businesses that are out there.  Some you can start up for less than $100 that will generate TONS of cash and you have more of the traditional brick and mortar businesses.  Now I know this Is a dated statistic but in 2012 $31.63 Billion was generated in Direct sales (work at home) business in the U.S. (Direct Selling Association & U.S. Census statistics). Forbes is also predicting that 79 Million people are going to open a home based business in the next 5 years...5 YEARS...that's staggering!!

So how does this impact you the single mom?  How do you get started?  You have so much on your plate how can you even find the time?  According to the GEM 2016/2017 Women's Report across all of the economies of the world women have a 5% greater likelihood of being innovative compared to men.  Now I am throwing all of these statistics at you but now I am going to share with you several stories of women that are moms, have gone through some tough times, and are now successful entrepreneurs.  Now two of them are married, but I am going to share with you their stories because it goes to what is at the heart of this blog...that you can do ANYTHING!!.  

Briana Gagnon from Egg Harbor Twp, Nj is a mother of 4 and wife to an awesome man, Josh who has literally become an inspiration to many, including myself.  She started with a direct selling company called "It Works".  They are known for that "Crazy wrap thing" and are a leading company in the field of health and weight loss.  She has 4 girls who are all involved in sports, school activities, and her husband who is an electrical lineman who has to sometimes leave the family for work for up to a week sometimes more at a time, which leaves Briana home to hold down the fort.  

Since starting "It Works" she has generated over $5000 in bonuses and monthly cash...all in just over a month!!  Now with all that she has going on in her life, and for investing just $100 she is doing really well for being a first time entrepreneur.  Briana says that, "Being able to work literally from my phone gives me the freedom to still be the mom that I am but help out in a way I didn't think was possible.".  As of today she has been promoted in the company to Ruby status which earned her a guaranteed cash flow of $500-600 a month and on her way to becoming Emerald which will earn her up to $1200 a month!!  For some of you moms who are looking to get healthier and make cash, and extra $500-600 a month for helping people get healthier is a car payment, and not to mention the extra time from not having to work an extra 9-5.  Not bad for going out there and crushing it with 4 kids, and a heck of a lot on her plate.  

I asked Briana what was key to her success and what motivated her to go out and start her own business, this is what she had to say, "The key really is to be consistent.  As a mom I have to be consistent with my kids and family, so I take that same attitude in creating my business.  What motivated me was being able to have another source of income for our family.  Just because my husband Josh is healthy today, doesn't mean life can't happen and tomorrow he is out of work.  It gives us financial security, but also for me it gives me an outlet to be someone other than mom.  To dream big and create something that I never thought I had the training or education to do otherwise.". 

Billie Cervera who lives in Morton, Texas is a stay at home mom who just 3 years ago became an entrepreneur with "It Works" as well.  She has helped so many families become financially independent by growing her team and showing others how to do the same.  Right now she went from being a stay at home mom, to earning over $9000 a month!! In 3 years she is making more from home in a month then some people make in 2 or 3 months.  I asked billie on what her thoughts were on becoming such an inspiration and influencer she said, "It gives moms hope to be able to dream again.  To be able to raise a family and have a full time income is a blessing.".  To be able to have control of your destiny is something that everyone should be striving for.  

Billie's advice on being a distributor for "It Works" is simple, "Anyone can do this business as long as you have the drive and the will to dream big.  After being at home with the kids it gives a piece of mind back to where you are interacting with others and not just with the kids." Being able to contribute to your family in other ways, especially in ways you never dreamed of before, is not only inspiring, but its self motivating in knowing that there are areas where you can achieve greatness by becoming a bit uncomfortable, thinking outside of the box and having faith knowing that God created you for greatness.  

Now, I know that in the title it says single moms, well I wanted to save that true story for last.  Leslie Jespersen has quite an incredible story to tell.  Leslie is the owner and operator of Marsolluna Music & Entertainment here in Atlantic City, NJ and according to her she has always had the entrepreneur spirit.  Leslie has helped me as a consultant in my business and I have learned so much from her and for that I am eternally grateful.  Leslie recently told me how she could recall her first business in elementary school, "Buying pens in bulk and decorating them with pipe cleaners, yarn, and those fuzzy teddy bear toppers and selling them to my classmates for a profit.".  She also talks about how her spirit always led her to find someway of making money.

Leslie's ventures include several direct sales companies, one of which she was very successful with, "ThirtyOne Gifts" up until Hurricane Sandy and her impending divorce.  Even now with her successful media company, Marsolluna Music & Entertainment she is still a consultant for "Perfectly Posh" in addition to being a full time mom.  Leslie speaks about the difficulties of the pressure of having a "real job" where she explains how she "Landed a 9-5 cubicle gig using my college degree in digital advertising but it wasn't all that it was cracked up to be.  I was brining home well below the poverty level income, working 40 hours a week with a college degree and was constantly stressed, overwhelmed, unhealthy and miserable," 

While being more passionate about her job than her bosses who were making more money off of the work that she was doing.  She weighed her options, and with the support of her family she struck out on her own.  She had decided that, "If I was going to be broke, I might as well be broke at home and spend time with my kids.".    With all the uncertainty of not having 9-5 income where you didn't know when the next paycheck was going to come, all of the other hurdles that she had to endure, Leslie has never looked back.  

Having to balance all of her priorities to make sure she is balancing life and career, Leslie is making things happen and is fast becoming a force to be reckoned with here in South Jersey.  She just recently signed a lease to a new home on the beach which is a testament to the hard work and dedication to her craft and passion.  

The common theme here is that all three of these examples were because the have a desire to be greater than what they were at their current position and time.  You are not defined by where you are in life or your circumstances.  Just today I watched a story about a mom of 5 from Houston, TX, Ieshia Champs went from being homeless, losing her husband to cancer,  contemplating suicide, to graduating with honors from Texas State University Law School.   She is another example of God's grace and how you are not defined by where you are!!

You have been created for greatness!!  Don't give up, don't give in, and don't worry just go out and do what it is you were meant to do!!  

Matthew 6: 25-27  25 "Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on.  Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not more valuable than they? 27 Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?

If you want to know more about any of these inspiring women, I have included their links on instagram and business websites

Briana Gagnon 

Website www.briana2870.itworks.com

Instagram https://www.instagram.com/briana2870/

Billie Cervera 

Website http://www.cerverawraps.com

Instagram https://www.instagram.com/mrs_cervera/

Leslie Jespersen:

website https://marsolluna.com

Instagram https://www.instagram.com/MarsollunaMedia/

 facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MarsollunaMusicandEntertainment/

Iesha Champs www.fox26houston.com/news/you-re-clicking-it/first-o…

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Everything comes to an end, but you are just getting started!

When you are at your lowest, when life is just beating you down and there doesn't seem to be an end in sight.  You look around for an answer,  you have so many people trying to give you advice but something in your gut is telling you to do something else.  Something just doesn't feel right. That little gut feeling keeps nudging you and you finally breakdown and ask God for help.  Now I am not a pastor or a theologian but I am speaking from my experience.  These are the things that happened to me.

I can give you a cookie cutter "follow these simple rules" and they would have a ton of truth in them but it may not hold truthful for you.  When you go to the beach and you come out of the water and head home, you get sandy, uncomfortable, you look for that fresh water to rinse off but you can't...the US Navy SEALs call this a "sugar cookie", except when they get wet and sandy they literally have to jump in the water and roll around in the sand until every inch of their body is covered in sand...hence the term sugar cookie.  

Now if you have ever been covered in sand in parts where you don't want to mention its quite uncomfortable, and makes you want to rush to get the sand off.  Rushing and wanting to do it your way can block your miracle that God has for you.  It's logical to want to get comfortable as quickly as possible, and when life changes in a way we don't expect it or that makes us feel uncomfortable we rush, use our own logic and try to fix stuff the way we think we know how.  

Let's take divorce for example,  this will come with a ton of changes, and pain, and hurt, and you just want it to end...so logically you do what is best for you...but what you may not realize is that you are blocking a huge miracle from your life happening at the best time.  You may be hurting yourself and delaying your healing and growth...believe me I know.  I was hurt so bad that I would dwell on what happened and ignore Gods words and end up back where I started..hurt and alone.  

In the gospel...yes I will speak about the gospel because this is what gets me through the pain and hurt, and keeps me focused on helping others, and I am being blessed for it.  John 11: 38-46 talk about Jesus and the resurrection of Lazarus.  Jesus delayed going to see Lazarus even after his family told Jesus that he was sick.  He was dead for 4 days, but told his family that his sickness Jesus said.."This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the son of God might be glorified thereby."  He told them that he wasn't going to die.

Well Martha and Mary, Lazarus' sister, believed Jesus.  He told them he wasn't going to die...well he died.  In the natural you believe because we see.  What Jesus was teaching them was believing is truly seeing.  He was dead for 4 days, Martha was upset, she even told Jesus.."if you had been here he wouldn't have died!".  How many times have we said if only we had done something different or if God was real he wouldn't have let this happen...its only logical to think that way.  Jesus promised Lazarus life, he wept with his family, he felt their pain.  

He went to his tomb and told them to move the stone, and Martha was again telling Jesus, there is going to be a stench, he's been dead for 4 days.  Jesus told them, "Did I not say that if you believed you would see God's glory?".  Jesus went into the tomb, gave thanks to God for hearing him.  He was speaking life into Lazarus and faith into everyone else, and he called for Lazarus to rise...and he did.  What is this all about?

This is you not listening to God when he already has a great plan for you, Jeremiah 29:11.  We want to be logical about what is going on, like Martha saying how badly it was going to stink in the tomb.  How badly does our lives sometimes stink because we neglected to have faith in our own resurrection?  When we have had little or no faith because we couldn't see how we were going to fix the problem.  Here is Gospel of how God made a promise with you.  Jesus was talking with his father and they knew what the outcome was going to be, if only we had faith and trusted in him.  We ended up doing the logical approach and hurt our chances of realizing our miracle sooner.

Bottom line is this, try to ignore the logic and believe in the unseen and supernatural.  Believe that God is walking with you and he is going to guide you.  The same way that you are reading this, and may be moved to become closer with God or needed this to realize that you aren't going to get through this alone, believe in that and let that peace settle in your heart.  

Remember....YOU ARE NOT ALONE!!!   

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Divorced at 40....now what?

Never did I ever think that at 40 I was going to be divorced with 3 kids.  When you're younger and you are just dating, and you have a girlfriend and you breakup, it can be difficult but there wasn't any definitive future.  When you're married you think, well thats it, this is the one I am going to grow old with.  Sure there are ups and downs, and there are times where you reminisce about when you were single and were free, and compare it to life with kids and a dad bod.  

I had a great fulltime career in the military, we both didn't have much and we had been through some really tough times, but we had each other.  We had our family...we weren't a statistic.  Then the outside influences started to pile on...finances, kids getting older, not enough "alone" time,  stuck in the rut of life where everything is the same...out of shape...but we had each other...and that wasn't enough.  Then came the lies, the outside forces of "friends" then a few short months later, it's over.  

While I was going through this, I tried my hardest to wrap my head around the situation and try to fix what was wrong.  I am a mechanic on one of the most advanced aircraft in the USAF, I could make that $30 million dollar aircraft fly, I could lead a team of mechanics literally halfway around the world and keep those jets flying, I could certainly keep my marriage from falling apart right?  Nope...just wasn't God's will.  To add insult to injury my full-time job was crumbling,  finances were crippling, my step kids were turning against me, "family" had turned against me, and the one that I thought I was going to be with forever was leaving me.  

I was just about to turn 40...when I thought I could take on all these issues at once, only to realize that I was outgunned, outmanned, and out of time.  That's when the depression set in.  That is when things became really dark.  When things that would normally I would take pleasure in, no longer was making me happy.  I would delight in my kids, but the stress of having my step kids turn their back on me after raising them for a decade was starting to take a heavy toll.  Everywhere I went in my neighborhood I would get looks from people.  I had so many lies told about me that people would just either look and sneer, or completely ignore me or turn their back.  

In hindsight it was the best thing that happened to me because I was able to see people for who they truly were.  Didn't mean that it didn't hurt, but it was a good thing.  Work was starting to get to me, the toxic environment and not knowing who to trust, with the exception of a few people who are and always will be family, was becoming increasingly harder to deal with.  I would cry to myself while at work in my office, I would cry on my way to work, I wasn't sleeping, I didn't have an appetite, I would hear the rumors and people laughing about how I was "going to pay" and how I deserved what was happening to me.

By no means am I perfect, but I was loyal, loving, and always involved in my family life.  Depression set in so bad that I would have panic attacks, and I had to visit my doctor and put on anti-depressants...which really didn't help.  I couldn't sleep, my mind was always wandering about what my life was becoming.  Then it happened, she moved out, the holidays were a nightmare, my "leaders" at work turned on me, and nearly ended my career...and the divorce became final.  Having to live life as a single dad with doubts of how this was going to work, feeling like a failure, feeling like I still had so much to accomplish n that broken marriage or still save it.

what I realized that very same week that my divorce was final that I wasn't alone, that this was a new beginning, and that God loved me more than I ever realized.  I was baptized, I was finding new opportunities for my military career and new opportunities for life after the military.  I lost the "dad bod"...well still finalizing that but wayyyy better than before lol.  I noticed things that I couldn't while I was married, and was truly thankful for those who didn't matter to be out of my life for good.  

Everyday is still a struggle, but I learned that loving myself was one of the first steps to actually healing.  I found a new purpose serving Christ in my church.  I also started Faithfully Led so I can help others in need like myself.  The mental anguish I went through almost made me the statistic among men that is men are 3 times more likely to commit suicide due to a divorce than divorced women.  I find myself saved because God saved me and showed me my purpose.  To share my story of heartbreak and despair.  To learn how to deal with the anger, and to deal with the loneliness, financial hardship, change in career....but it's an everyday struggle.  

So...now what?  Well life is just getting started.  Life is now beginning for me because of what I learned.  I know that God is so great and he is so loving to give me a new purpose that everyday it gets a bit easier.  The vices that I had are slowly becoming nothing more than a memory.  I know that I have real worth, and purpose.  I know that there is a woman out there for me that will value me and love me for me, and not just what I do or what I can provide.  Don't get me wrong, I still cry occasionally, I still think about how I could fix it...but then I snap out of it and see my future for what it is...bright and with purpose...and so should you.

You need to find your purpose because you have one.  You need to seek God and have a relationship with him.  Not a religious one, but a personal relationship.  Once you have that bedrock, that foundation you can build your mansion!!  You can't build a house on sand but you can build it on a raised foundation and enjoy the view.  It may not be clear right away, and thats ok.  You need to get your mental health in order.  You won't be able to find your purpose if your mind isn't clear.  seek help, friends, therapy, God.  Get your mind right and show the world that your purpose is bigger than the lies that are being told about you and CRUSH IT!!!  

Take this time to do what you want to do for YOU...be that example for your kids.  Look at yourself in the mirror and decide to hold yourself accountable to become greater...and give yourself permission to do so!!!  

This isn't the end....but only the beginning...write your story!!

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