Inclusion in Community

We all desire to be included by others. But sometimes, it is more difficult than intended.

Two summers ago, I had just graduated college. On the surface, everything seemed to be going great as I had just graduated magna cum laude, and had an internship lined up that was on the same trajectory as my career. Even though there were many aspects of that summer that were very enjoyable, it was one of the least satisfying summers of my life.

I went to college with the intent of being narrowly-focused on my career as a sportscaster. But as time progressed, I quickly realized that there was more to my college experience than the degree. I was challenged to grow deeper in my intellect and my faith, and have a more full understanding of the world than I was allowing myself to have prior. My fondest memories of college are with the community that I developed there.

Community is something that we are all striving for. It is something that binds us together as we were created to enjoy each other’s company. In 2019, we can connect with people remotely more than we ever did before.

Lori Gosselin wrote the book Sounding the Drum: Community Building in the Digital Age. In this work, she mentions early on that “We yearn for community because it represents to us a feeling of belonging. We seek connection with others because we are social beings. . . . Community is the hope for the human race: This is a movement of hope.”

She later adds, “Community will lead us to discovery of the answers we desperately need personally– and globally. . . . In community we find the greatest joys life has to offer. In community, we discover the true power to change the world.”

Community also gives us a line of support. Gosselin mentions in her book that community “saved her life” when her young adult son passed. Having a group of people that support you in the good times, and in the bad can be vital to our mental health for overcoming struggles and celebrating successes.

So if we are not in community, how can we become part of one? Well, it is easier than it sounds, but there are numerous ways to get involved. But one of the best ways is finding something you enjoy doing, and joining already established groups that do the activity you desire. This could include joining a local softball league, or joining the community theater. Also, can be a utilization to connect people.

Many communities may have local adults social activities or gatherings. It is not uncommon in larger municipalities for there to be organized adult hangouts that are designed for people to meet. Also, local church groups have communities geared towards gender and age groups.

After my summer internship in 2017 and I settled into employment, I made it a personal mission of mine to get involved in local community. I was able to join a church group and played softball and basketball nearby. Some activities I enjoyed more than others, as I tried numerous groups and activities until I could find a sustainable routine schedule that fits my needs. Even two years afterwards, I am still altering my weekly community routine, and that’s ok!

If you currently are not part of a community, i’d highly recommend you doing so. It can certainly enhance your life in numerous ways!

A Four-Year Lesson

The last four years have been challenging for me in many capacities. Most notably, externally, in physical appearance. Prior to the summer of 2016, I weighed as much as 275 pounds, well above what my normal weight should be. I had a significant decrease that summer of about 60 pounds which eventually led me to weigh to even as low as 190 pounds, which in hindsight was probably a bit too low.

Fast forward to the summer of 2017, my motivation to stay in shape dwindled and I jumped up to a personal high of 295 pounds within a year. As a 2019 New Year’s resolution, I decided enough was enough. I watched my diet once again, got a membership at Planet Fitness, and increased my outdoor exercise activity. Now, I am down 70 pounds to 214 lbs. Unlike last time, I will likely maintain a weight total of about this range as I look to tone and build up muscle mass.

I’m not going to go into every detail, but this time around, my weight loss tactics and motivation are much more sustaining, and I look forward to maintaining a healthy lifestyle as long as the man upstairs gives me the physical ability to exercise on a regular basis.

As I mentioned at the beginning, I am not posting this to gloat, but rather as inspiration. There are many life-long battles that will be persistent. This is one of many for me. As the good book says, “keep fighting the good fight,” my friends!


Loving Yourself in a “Profile” World

Image Credit: WordUp411

Editor’s Note: In our blog’s summary statement, “bringing awareness to neuro-immune illnesses and mental health,” we view the term ‘mental health’ in a broad spectrum. There will be many posts that will be dealing with the depression, anxiety, and the more well-known usage of the phrase; but there will be other posts, like this one, that will encompass health of the mind in a variety of topics. I believe these posts will be just as meaningful. Enjoy the read and join the discussion!  

Every person wants to be viewed by others in a positive note. Especially with social media, people are striving for the most likes, the most followers, and a positive view of themselves with others. What can separate you from others is being the most self-confident no matter what stage of like you are in. Every person has the capability to have a positive mindset and to view themselves as another positive piece of the society in which they live in.  

Dr. Karin Anderson-Abrell

Dr. Karin Anderson Abrell says, “[w]e spend so many years battling with the one person who sticks with us through thick and thin—ourselves.” She also states that the best way to cope with this battle is to love ourselves. 

I feel one misconception that people have with my identity is that people view me just simply a sports nut. Yes, I do enjoy sports very much, and my current employment situation deals with sports, but there’s much, much more to me than just sports. I am a person of faith, a musician, a board game enthusiast, a people person, and someone who cares about every person that comes my way. But many of those attributes are not present on social mediums, or what I feel is being portrayed on my social media, or quite frankly, in face-to-face conversations.  

Please realize no person has it all together. The person with 10,000 Instagram likes may very well be very depressed and feel very lonely. The person who only gets three birthday greetings on Facebook may very well be grateful for those three, and enjoying life to the fullest. 

No matter what situation you are in life, whether you are completely healthy, or on your deathbed, very popular or not, everyone can have a positive outlook, and love who they are as a person. There’s always something to be thankful for, and a glimmer of hope for tomorrow. If you don’t feel this way, I invite you to do some soul-searching to see what is out there. I have found a solution in my faith that will keep me in a joyous and hopeful perspective my entire life. 

I am by no means perfect at this, and I need to practice being content in my current state, but I would suggest the following items to keep you feeling content with where you are at in life.  

Andy Crouch

1). Limit technology: It’s hard in today’s society. I get it. Andy Crouch, Author of “The Tech-Wise Family” suggests that people should be off technology an hour a day, a day a week, and a week a year. This is a good model to attempt to practice for all of us.  

2). Be thankful for what you have: I am trying at least once a day this week to be thankful for what I have. I invite you to try as well.  

3). Don’t worry about what other people are thinking of you: I spend WAY too much of my day thinking about what other people think of me. Focus on what you can do to make the world a better place.  

Hopefully these steps will help you shape the identity that you want to have in your life. Please feel free to give feedback on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages (@mindsofmeaning) and let’s reassess throughout the week. This is supposed to be a community, not a lecture. God bless!  

Origins of This Journey

Near Mute? No More!: A journey from significant illness to 100% recovery.

First off, thank you for reading the start of this journey! Let me first tell you my story of how I am where I am today.

People who know me as the guy who is energetic and passionate about many avenues of life and whose favorite two things to do involve an excess of oral communication: announcing sports and singing/performing music. But early on in life, it appeared that the ability to talk and the ability to be cognitively aware of things that other people experience was threatened.

When I was between 18 months to two years of age, my family started noticing some signs that I wasn’t developing right. I wasn’t talking, Irritable of many noises and my parents decided to take me in to see certain specialists. The majority consensus for multiple specialists was that I was diagnosed with a form of autism, and there was a chance that it could have progressed to something more severe.

Thank God my parents decided that the answer could not be. They kept searching for another doctor until a family friend referred us to Dr. Michael Goldberg. Goldberg’s philosophy is that many diagnoses in the autistic spectrum do not match Leo Kanner’s initial discovery of what autism truly is. Goldberg believes that many cases of autism are actually severe illnesses, called Neuro-Immune Dysfunction Syndrome, where the synapses in the brain become “turned off” and with intensive medication, and therapeutic treatment, these synapses can be trained and turned on, causing an increase in quality of life.

There was much improvement in my cognitive life and behavior, and about 10 years later I was considered fully healed, and I have no signs of any part of this illness lingering with me today. I am thankful to this day that I was able to recover in such a manner.

For the years following the recovery. I felt ashamed to share my story publicly. I was afraid people would me still view me as “sick” and would then associate me with significant differences from other people or believe that my story was a hoax. For the last 10 years, I went through this battle and I felt the best way to overcome this is to go public about my childhood illness.

I believe that a main purpose of the rest of my life here on earth is to share more about my story and provide hope to those who seek it. This is why I am starting this experience entitled Minds of Meaning which will consist of this blog and public speaking opportunities.

The goal is this experience is threefold:

A). To bring awareness to neuro-immune illnesses and to bring a perspective of someone who went through these trials.

B). To discuss and relate to other struggles of the mind that society goes through on a daily basis, including anxiety, depression, etc.

C). Occasionally relate to how faith can help the mind overcome obstacles.

Thank you for reading this initial post and I hope that you continue to read. Please share this information I truly look forward to continuing this journey for the month and years to come.