Home Office

Tips For Working From Home


Home Office

My home office…it’s where the magic happens. 

Working from home sounds great…until you have to do it on a consistent basis. The fact of the matter is that working from home has a different set of advantages and disadvantages that some people may find difficult to navigate while trying to be productive.  

I worked from home for five years in a demanding field with strict deadlines and challenging goals. This work from home period prepared me for what most of us are facing now – COVID-19 quarantine. So I wanted to take this opportunity to share with you some of the lessons I have learned in my five years of working from home and how I was able to remain productive.  

Specify a Work Space 

You need to set aside a specific work environment in your home. Ideally, this could be a spare room where you can have a desk, a computer, and a door. The door acts as a partition to help your mind transition from “being at home” mode to “work” mode. Once you cross the door threshold, you tell your mind “I’m here to work”.  It also gives you the ability to shut the door so that other family members know you are working and not to disturb you (unless that family member is your puppy…they should always be allowed to disturb you, lol). 

If you don’t have a spare bedroom, any area that you can designate as a workspace will do. The only caveat to this, try to keep the work area away from your bedroom. There’s a lot of reasons for this but it boils down to training your mind to disassociate work and life (more on this later). If you work from your bedroom, your mind will find it hard to associate your bedroom as a place of rest which research shows can even affect your ability to sleep.  

Create a Checklist of Needed Accomplishments  

One of the hardest things about working from home is what I call “Mental Meandering”. You know you have things to do, and you may even know how to do them…you just don’t know where to start. Start by creating a checklist of things to do. This will give you a strict guide that will help mitigate your tendency to allow your mind to meander while it tries to figure out what to do next. You can waste so much time trying to determine the next thing to do.  Make your checklist at the end of your workday. Set aside 10 to 15 minutes and during that time identifgoals for the next day. Alsotake the time to arrange these tasks in order of priority. For example, if something has a deadline or is time sensitive, put these at the top of your to-do checklist. Consider printing the list and placing it in a location where you can easily see it.  

Power Work Sessions 

Things become easier to do when you brake them up into manageable pieces. It’s similar with work. Working from home can seem like a monolithic work period where your full 8+ hours are due collectively. This can be different in an office environment because events such as flash meetings, impromptu conversations with co-workers, sudden events, etc. can help break the monotonous integrity of the work block.  

Manage your home working hours by breaking them into Power Work Sessions. Set aside two hours where your focus will ONLY be on work-related items. Remove all distractions and do not allow yourself to dwell on anything other than what is required of you from work. It helps if you set a timer for two hours (yes, seriously). After those two hours have passed take the next 15 minutes to not think about work. Do not even look at your computer (yes, seriously). Go outside, read a book, take a power nap, do anything that will unwind your mind. After those 15 minutes are up, begin your next two hour period. Then give yourself lunch (for an hour). After lunch, repeat the process.  

Power Sessions are most effective when paired with your checklist. Try to accomplish one to three of the goals you’ve outlined on your checklist within one power session. Of course, this depends on the complexity of the goal(s). If you have a combination of fairly simple goals, maybe you can shoot for the completion of five or more goals within a power session. However, if it’s a goal that will require your utmost attention and is highly complex, maybe one power session for that goal is needed….maybe two.  

You can play around with the times. Some people like to do three-hour sessions with 30 minutes rests. Some like to break up the sessions into one hour. Personally, I’ve found that two hours gives me enough time to get goals accomplished while not completely burning me out. But you do what works for you.  

Manageable Goals 

When setting goals for the day it’s important to make them realistic and manageable. If you notice that a certain goal is complex and is comprised of many parts, it will be easier for you to break this goal into a series of manageable goals that you can accomplish throughout the day. It’s not realistic to have the completion of a complex task as one of your goals on the checklist. The goal will become daunting to act as one goal amongst many others that you hope to complete in one day. By breaking large complex goals into smaller more manageable goals you allow yourself the ability to better manage daunting tasks which will enable you to stay motivated and productive.  

TIP: If you know you are going to have a large complex goal, set aside one workday to complete it. This will free up other days for less complex and routine goals.  

Human Interaction 

Working from home reduces your ability to come into contact with people. Some of you may think you’ll enjoy this, and for a short while you just might. However, humans are designed to be in a community. We need people. Some of us need more human interaction than others but at some point, we all need to interact with each other. Do not underestimate the need for human interaction. One of the hardest parts of working from home for me was the lack of human interaction. This is a surprising statement given the fact that I’m an introvert. After an extended period of working from home, I found that my ability to relate to people was diminishing. It was becoming harder to think of complex solutions while introducing a human variable. This is crucial because most of what we do (no matter what we do) involves some type of service for people.   

However, more than just an understanding of how our products meet the needs of people, research has shown that we require a certain amount of human interaction in order to be healthy. It helps not just our minds but our physical well being as well. So be sure to incorporate some level of human interaction in your working from home routine (not during power sessions unless the power session involves the completion of a meeting). During your 15 minute breaks, consider zooming a friend or interact with some of your family members. Of course, our current COVID-19 situation makes it unadvisable to go out and interact with people outside your home. Nevertheless, use tools such as Zoom and Office Team to engage with someone else other than yourself. It’s important.  

NOTE: Facebook does not count. You need real-time facial social interaction. 

Move 

It’s tempting to become sedentary while working from home. Gone are the opportunities to walk down the hall to ask a question of a co-worker. Gone are the necessary visits to a project that needs your analysis. Gone are customers who demand a meeting you with in another location thus forcing you to move out of your office. Working from home can be a sedentary death trap. Research shows that one of the worst things we can do for our health is to sit down for extended amounts of time. Do not let yourself become sedentary. Use your 15-minute breaks to move and walk around. You can also incorporate things like sitting on a stability ball, or typing while standing. Anything to keep you from sitting or not moving for longer than two hours! This will help your energy levels and will help keep you healthy.  

Establish Work/Home Balance 

This last point is huge! However, it’s at the end of this list because it’s something that encompasses everything I have just mentioned. DO NOT (and I repeat) DO NOT blend your work and your life. When you enter into your work space…work. However, when your work day is over, and you exit your work space….do not go back in. Do not bring your laptop to the living room. If something was not completed, add it to the goals for the next day and move on. If you are tempted to check your work e-mail…don’t. It’s not healthy to integrate work with your complete day. There needs to be a distinct boundary between work time and YOU time. This will protect YOU from burnout and will allow you to rest. Consequently, this will make you more productive and will allow you to push harder towards meeting your goals effectively and to the best of your abilities.  

The problem with not distinctly separating work and life is that you fail to tell your mind to “shut off”. As a result, you allow yourself to be in some level of work mode consistently, even if you don’t realize it. It’s like a battery that is slowly drained by a small electrical source that you just can’t find. Eventually, the battery is going to run out of juice. DON’T RUN OUT OF JUICE! Take care of yourself. Rest. Enjoy your family, your puppy, your hobby. Then, when it’s time to work, you’ll be ready, alert, and able.  

This list is by no means exhaustive but detail some of the things that have helped me be productive while working from home.  

Stay safe, and here’s to one day hugging without the fear of putting people in danger.  

 

 

Sweat The Small Stuff


It’s hard to believe that it’s been almost a year of dealing with this pandemic. We’ve lost friends, family, loved ones, and yet we’ve had to be strong. Very strong.

It has not been easy.

The stress of uncertainty, the angst of a tumultuous time, the battle against the despair of seeing everything change knowing things will never be the same again. It all works together to collectively test us. Like a furnace tests gold, it seems this crucible is refining us.

It’s a painful process.

Yet in the quagmire of a dynamic heartless landscape, it’s often the tiniest sparks that shine the brightest.

When your thoughts swirl with self loathing at your perceived insufficiencies, it’s the small tender reminder of a friend that can help lift you up.

When your heart leads you through a dark alley, it may be the smallest of smiles that can brighten your path.

When you fall in exhaustion and you simply can’t take another step, it’s the pat on the back that convinces you otherwise.

Sweat the small stuff.

In a time where a hug is unheard of and desperately needed, smile often.

Where masks may inhibit that facial expression, text often.

Seek to let others know that they matter to you, regardless of how you feel they may take it. Regardless of sounding clingy or needy or whatever. Let people know you care.

But also, don’t forget to look in the mirror and care for yourself. There is no one like you, and this world needs you. It needs you to smile at others and to smile at yourself.

It needs you to be who you want to be, who you know you are.

And if by chance you think you don’t know who you are, well…what a wonderful journey of discovery awaits you! Let’s take it together!

Sweat the small stuff.

Most of us can’t handle big things right now. Nor are we expected to. Take small steps.

Small.

Enjoy every opportunity to be near the people that make you happy. After all, what else is there? Money? Fame? Power?

Heh.

Give me an evening shooting the breeze and talking about weird stuff with a group of friends any time.

Sweat the small stuff.

Right now, it’s all we have.

A Faith Rocked But Not Destroyed


There have been two times in my life where I feel my faith has been the most vulnerable. Twice where I felt that my faith had endured an atomic attack.

The first time happened when I was in my 20s. A beloved pastor and mentor whom I had respected and loved, fell to infidelity. This may not sound like much to some, but to a relatively new Christian, a pastor was someone almost above reproach. You certainly did not expect infidelity to be a struggle for them. At least it wasn’t in my mind. But there it was.

The day my pastor announced the news and asked the church for forgiveness was one of the most emotionally confusing days of my life. I loved my pastor. And of course, I forgave him. But, if he (who was such a godly man) struggled and fell, what hope did I have?

Shortly thereafter I came out as a gay man and the church that I had grown to love kicked me out of the congregation. It truly was a dark and rebellious time for me.

Years later, I came back to the Lord and renewed my walk with Him. Eventually, I  accepted who He made me be.

Christians were not happy.

But then it happened again.

This time, it wasn’t a pastor but rather the Christian community that delivered the groundbreaking blow.

As I witnessed a man who lacked any sense of morality take a stand to run for the presidency of a “Christian nation”, I laughed.

Surely this is a joke. This man just wanted publicity.

But then I saw people rallying behind him.

And those people were “Christians”.

And then this man became the president.

I struggled like I had not struggled ever since that day in that Baptist church. My emotions were laid bare as I witnessed people who had condemned immorality in any form, cast their lots on a man who had no resemblance to anything described as a good leader. Rather this man was prideful, arrogant, sexually immoral, a liar, and the list just went on.

As a person who has been the victim of an untold amount of accusations and doubts concerning my salvation because of my sexual orientation, it blows my mind that these same people can so easily support a man that has blatantly and unequivocally done what the Lord says is wrong.

So, I struggled.

For a while, I was angry because I felt betrayed.

I was angry because I felt so lost…again.

It’s been a year now and I’m not angry, though I have not stepped inside a church.

I don’t think I ever will.

But that does not mean that I have lost my faith. The irony is that in some ways my faith is stronger.

In the midst of everything that has happened, the Lord, I feel, has shown me that people are people. It doesn’t matter what label they brand themselves with or what they look like. At the end of it all, people are people. We are people. And God loves us the same.

I’ve had to learn to separate who Christ is with the label of “Christianity” and take Christ at his own merits. And in Christ, I have placed my trust.

My faith was rocked but not destroyed because my eyes have always looked to the Lord. The whole world could go against Him but my eyes will be on the Lord.

I don’t say that to sound haughty. My eyes are fixed on Him because he’s made that possible. It has nothing to do with me.

Nevertheless, what I have learned is that now more than ever, it’s important to grab hold of Christ. To seek Him and to love Him. Not the religion, but the person.

There is so much rhetoric, dogma, and religious talk that sounds holy. But the gospel is simple, faith in Christ. And that faith draws you to that which is good.

“It doesn’t matter what label they brand themselves with or what they look like. At the end of it all, people are people. We are people. And God loves us the same.”

There are some Christians who see Trump for who he is.

There are some that don’t.

This no longer shocks me.

I feel the Lord is calling us out. These are dark times. Now, more than ever, light must shine.

This light is not ours but the Lord’s. Therefore, if we are not connected to Him, we will always lack the ability to shine it.

Brothers and sisters, let us hold fast unto the Lord so that His light can shine. It needs to shine.

The world has seen the hypocrisy of the churches and has lumped anyone and everyone who dare claim the label “Christian” in the same boat.

The world does not respect Christianity anymore. But why would they when Christianity keeps standing for and doing that which is supposed to stand against:

Pastors of mega-churches are wealthy and greedy.

Pastors are constantly caught in sexual sins

Churches fail to stand up to racial injustice, economic abuse, and migratory hatred

Churches have become angry and political with no hint of love or caring.

And churches have elected a man that is nothing even remotely close to a person that is a moral example.

The world has taken note.

And when one of the few commandments Jesus actually gave us, which was to go out into the world and make disciples, is hindered by these failures, there’s a problem.

Jesus wants people to come to Him, but the church has made that difficult. People can’t see Jesus in church people anymore.

What Happened To The Beauty Of Salvation?


I remember a time when salvation was beautiful. Something pure and desirable.

But somewhere in the course of time, that changed.

The church has tarnished the beauty of salvation and replaced it with a dirty mirror of greed, hypocrisy, lack of faith, and legalism.

It’s sad because this was not always the case.

When I became a believer, I was 15 years old and had lots of issues.

But on a Wednesday night church service that I had begrudgingly agreed to attend, an evangelist spoke about Jesus.

He spoke about Jesus’ life. He spoke about Jesus’ humiliation at our hands. He spoke about Jesus’ gruesome death and about His resurrection.

I had never heard about Jesus quite like this and on that night I found Him to be the most beautiful person I have ever heard of.

You see, Jesus went through that painful humiliation and death to save me. To pay for something I should be paying for, but couldn’t.

As I willingly started to come to church and learn about God, I met other people. People of humble faith, genuine hearts, and full of love.

These people were beautiful.

And though there were disagreement about theology, music, movies, and everything else you can think of, they were still beautiful.

In hindsight I think what made them so beautiful is that they genuinely loved. They prayed for people, visited the sick, were sacrificial in many ways, prayed for sinners (not in condemnation but in genuine pleas for their well being).

But I don’t see that anymore.

What I see is a group of people who have assumed the label of “Christian” but that are tethered to the things of this world.

They place their desires above the spirit of the Lord. They seek their own will instead of the Lord’s. They lean on their own strength instead of the Lord’s.

Instead of loving and praying for people, they lift up “the law of the land” and treat foreigners as strangers when the Lord says to treat them as your own people.

They barrage sinners with the Bible and religious quotes when the Lord says it is He who brings people to repentance.

They allow widows, children, and the fatherless to be forsaken through political greed when the Lord said to stand up for these.

They are loud and contentious about little things like Starbucks cups, wedding cakes, photography, and movies, and yet are silent at the injustice of racism, political corruption, and other forms of discrimination.

They love their rules and appearance of holiness all the while forsaking the simple call of relationship with God.

And the list could go on.

But I’m left asking “what happened”?

I loved being part of the Christian community before. It felt like home.

Now, it feels so foreign it might as well be a cult.

I miss seeing people filled with supernatural love. That was beautiful.

I miss seeing people trusting the Lord. That was beautiful.

I miss Christians standing up to injustice. That was beautiful.

I miss beautiful.

 

When White Supremacists Are On The Move


I currently sit in a Firehouse Subs restaurant thinking.

A lot has happened.

Yesterday I saw a disturbing display of hatred. White people with torches marching through an institution of learning in clear opposition of people different than them.

It's ironic really.

Did they not learn the ignorance of hating people for their skin color? How did they not learn this?

I sit here feeling more vulnerable then I have ever felt.

I thought we were passed this!

People died yesterday because someone could not see past the color of someone else's skin. Someone died because of hatred so strong, it's like the stuff of movies.

But this is not a movie, it's real. My God it's real.

I've often wondered how my grandparents dealt with the obvious displays of racism. How did they deal with outright condemnation and devaluation of their being due to their skin color and nationality?

Looks like I'm about to find out.

Everyday these outright displays of bigotry become more common. Furthermore, the elected leadership of this country seem to not take a strong stance against it. Instead, they play their political games with politically correct rhetoric while people like me seek assurance.

An assurance that says "we are not going to let these bad people persecute you".

I was actually holding my breath to see this assurance become reality.

I've stopped holding my breath.

It's becoming obvious to me that help is not going to come from my leadership.
I guess that shouldn't surprise me.
But then, where IS help coming from?

Some will say "the Lord".

This is true.

But the Lord uses instruments, people. Where are his instruments?

I sit here seriously thinking about how to protect myself, how to protect others, how to stand against prejudice and injustice.

I shouldn't really be thinking this. Or should I?

Maybe I've been living in a bubble and I'm finally waking up?

Matrix style with a pill and everything.
It's a rude awakening.

I really wish those people knew what it feels like to feel like this. It's one thing if a person hates me because I'm an asshole.

I can deal with that.

But to hate me simply because I'm darker skinned?

Who can control their birth skin color?

Then again, as a gay man this should not be all that foreign to me.

It's just frustrating to look in the mirror and see someone that is hated by such a large group of people for reasons that cannot be controlled.

It's dumb.

So what am I going to do about it?

I am going to love but stand for justice. I am going to fight with compassion. I am going to pray and shout as loud as I can. I am going to heal as best as I can.

The bubble is broken.

My safety net is gone.

The bigots are bold now and my life is not worth much to them.

In an instant, one of them could run me over with a car.

In an instant.

I pray I'm being sensational.
I pray I'm wrong.
I pray this is just the media blowing things out of proportion.

But sadly I know it's not so. Sadly, I know that this ugly truth has been here all along. Except now it has a face, and we see it for what it really is.

That mask is slowly coming off, and as it does we incrementally see how disfigured and grotesque this face is.

Who can stand it?

God help us.

Christians’ Vote for Trump Tells Me Everything I Need to Know


trump3

It’s hard to imagine that there was a time when I looked up to church leaders.

It’s hard to imagine that there was a time when I looked up to the so called “Christians”.

I once felt like I belonged in the “Christian” group. Like I was home amongst people that genuinely cared for me.

Many of you probably knew me back then.

It’s hard to imagine how blind I used to be, and how I didn’t see past the farce sooner.

I stand looking at my social media feeds and what is happening as our nation elects what is without a doubt one of the most ungodly if not THE most ungodly man to ever aspire the seat of the American presidency.

What’s even worse is that so called “Christians” are cheering this sad scenario on. These are the same “Christians” that I’ve personally debated over the appropriateness of worship music styles (such a trivial matter really) and yet they back a man that shames our country with a filthy rhetoric of hate and intolerance.

The same “Christians” that taught me to guard my heart are turning a blind eye to one of the darkest hearts in politics right now.

The same “Christians” that admonished me to live a sexually pure life support a man that is OK and even boasts of grabbing women by the pussy, demeans women by attacking their looks and their personal struggles, and has even been married three times. What ever happened to all that preaching about divorce?

Such hypocrisy.

Let me make this clear: you “Christians” have lost any credibility to preach to me about your delusion of righteousness.

I’m tired of pleading with a group that is able to suspend notions of belief only to elect a morally bankrupt man because his worlds tickle the ears.

However, you will find yourselves deceived.

The devil promises many things and keeps none.

But by the time you realize your error, it’ll be too late.

What happens from here on is your responsibility and you bare the full blame.

When love was required you embraced hate. With your vote, you told people like me that we don’t matter.

How could I ever turn to a group who doesn’t care about me.

I will never turn to such a group.

Ever.

I challenge the notion that you serve a loving god knowing full well that you don’t.

You serve yourselves and disguise this in a Halloween costume of a poor imitation of the Truth.

I will still seek the Lord. I will do so for the rest of my life.

But at least now I know where I won’t find Him.

Juan

The Church is weak and afraid.


Donald Trump. 
The very mention of this name saddens me. But not for any reason that you might think of. 
Donald Trump is a glaring example of how the church has lost sight of her first love.

Why is Donald Trump so appealing? It’s not because he is the epitome of morality, character, or spiritual fortitude. 

No.

His appeal, as far as I can see, is due to his promise to “make America great”. To defend the seemingly pure race of Americanism and expel the dreadful illegals that have overrun this country and whose sole purpose is its destruction.

But that’s exactly where the problem lies. 

I met a man once. A godly man, full of the Spirit and incredibly wise. He was a missionary and you could tell he ached for those who had never heard of Jesus. 

This man had been to some of the most remote places on earth! 

He loved coming into contact with foreigners because, as he put it “it’s an opportunity to share the good news”. 

I always admired his zeal because it was one of the many ways where his love for the Lord showed. 

Today, Christians are shouting for “illegals” to go back to their country. Today, Christians are more concerned about the comfort and status of a “pure America” rather then the passionate heart of a loving God that says “if I be lifted up, I will draw all men unto me”. 

WAKE UP CHURCH!

The scriptures say that in the end times the church will be deceived. From where I stand it looks like that’s already happened.

We’ve been deceived into believing that this world is our home. We’ve been deceived into believing that we have rights when we’re not even our own. We’ve been deceived into valuing the welfare of our own interests when our master laid down his throne for us. We’ve been deceived into caring about the financial status of our country when our Lord was able to produce coins from the mouths of fishes. 

We’ve been deceived into elevating the law of God above the law of love which scripture clearly says is more valuable than the law itself. 

We’ve forgotten who our first love is. Is He not the one that told us never to worry because he clothes the lilies of the fields and we are more valuable than them? Is He not the one that showed us who our tue neighbors are with the example of a Samaritan? Is he not the one that reached out to the woman at the well when societal norms strictly prohibited him from doing so? Is he not the rose of Sharon? Is He not Emmanuel? Who is it that we are following? Please someone tell me?

The lord said “you shall know my disciples by the love they have for one another” but the church is anything but loving towards its own, and let’s not even talk about those who are not “their own”. The church fails Jesus’ test. 

Who do we serve?

Do we serve an anemic God whose frailty prevents him from providing for our needs to the point that we must run to a morally bankrupt leader in hopes that he provides them?

Do we serve a God so cold hearted, that we think that he would be ok with us turning people away due to foolish things as “laws” when time and time and time and time again HE says, welcome the foreigner among you and treat him as your own?!

Have we forgotten the measure that God looked for in a leader? What he has always looked for In a leader? Spoiler alert. It is not Donald trump.

WAKE UP CHURCH!

You who proclaim and judge and chastise those depraved individuals in sin, won’t you judge yourself?

The world looks at you and laughs. You’re a joke?!?! 

With one hand you proclaim to serve a powerful God but all of your actions say otherwise. 

You are a joke!

Because of you the name of the lord is blasphemed at the top of the rooftops.

You are weak!

You are sick!

Wake up!

You have led many children to their deaths both physically and spiritually. Do you not think that on that day, God is not going to judge? Oh He will judge and you will be found guilty. 

Don’t think you can hide under your “Jesus salvation” for true salvation comes with a change of heart. But what I see is a lot of talk and little action.

When the God of love resides in you, you can’t help but have love. So don’t fool yourself you who think a simple prayer saves your soul.

The scriptures say if you believe “with your heart”. Not with a prayer. 

If I were you, I would check your salvation. Because what you are doing and are failing to do is more inline with the demons than with the Angels.

Wake up church!

You’ve played the whore with God and the lover is none other than yourself!!!

But the Lord says he chastises those whom He love.

Church, your chastisement is near. It’s at the door, lo it has turned the handle and its walking in!

Your chastisement is near.

Repent!

Turn from this cold heart and ask the Lord, the true God to change it. Has he not said that he makes beauty from ashes? Can he not do the same to you?

Repent!

Your actions have not gone unnoticed but have been judged lacking. But the Lord is still knocking. If anyone hears his voice and opens the door, he will come in and dine with him. 

Church, the Lord is knocking. He has been knocking for quite some time. He is waiting for you to open the door. That door that you have slammed in his face.

You say the sin in America is incurring God’s wrath. 

Foolish church. The Sin in America is you. Your lack of love. Your lack of power. God tasked you to proclaim the truth, but the truth is more than just words. The truth is power! The supernatural power of God to love and overcome supernaturally. 

You have hidden it. It doesn’t show. You have failed to proclaim to a lost world that a God full of power is pleading with them to come to Him!!!

Fools!

The sin is you! And the judgment coming to America is your fault. 

How can you possibly build a nation with a rotten foundation? The weight of the structure will fall and crush anything caught underneath.

He who has an ear let him hear!

Repent oh church! 

Put on the garment of praise and let your husband’s fragrance of Iove permeate your attire. 

Come back to that place where you first met Him. And let Him love you. Let him embrace you in his loving arms and reassure you that you are loved beyond measure. His desire for you is great! 

But you run. 

Even when you think you are walking you run. 

But as soon as you turn, you’ll see you could never in your wildest dreams outrun a loving, jealous, passionate God. He who moves mountains to reach his beloved.

Amen. 

Hate in Mass Shooting, Race Shooting, and Cop Shooting


SHooting2

These past few weeks has revealed a horrible truth: people like me are still not safe.

On one hand, you have terrorists; vile and depraved beings, who think so little of human life so as to destroy the life of 50 innocent people only because of their different sexual orientation. On the other hand, there’s the select few who have taken oaths to protect us but instead hunt us down for no other apparent reason than the color of our skin.

But as if all this was not enough, then you have those; who for the outlining actions of a few, villainize the whole and take it upon themselves to exact retribution.

A barbaric, senseless, shameful, and dehumanizing retribution.

I can’t help but have a heavy heart.

How can a creature that is supposed to be an evolutionary advancement be so primal, ignorant, and destructive?

I want to believe that humans are better. I want to believe that one day we truly will look at each other not through a tinted glass of warped reality, but rather through no glass at all.

No divides.

Just, none.

Hate is never justified. Unfortunately the actions that are plaguing most media outlets exemplify hate.

But the answer to what is plaguing society right now is not far from anyone’s reach.

It’s not really about what government reforms can be accomplished.

It’s not about the removal of weapons or even a new president.

No.

It’s about challenging hate…within ourselves.

Hate is a nasty weed that uses justification and excuses to exist. It hides behind the rock of principles and laws and grows on the nourishment of status quo. Like all weeds, hate starts small. Unchecked however, it grows out of control and before you know it, this invasive creature has taken over! It’s easier to remove it when it’s a tiny plant. It’s significantly harder to uproot once it has taken hold. Nevertheless, in both scenarios, hate can be dealt with.

That’s right.

There is hope.

This may sound cliché, but the truth is if we want change in our world, we have to start changing ourselves.

The moment we can realize that none of us are guiltless of hate, the faster we can work together towards a solution.

Scientists believe we are the evolutionary apex of our current time. Religious folk believe we were created in the image of God. No matter how you look at it, humans are on top. Smarter and more powerful than any other living being.

Therefore, it stands to reason that we are more than able to challenge ourselves.

To be better.

To defeat hate.

My heart is indeed heavy, but I choose hope.