Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Inspire, Encourage & Empower - Old & New Flowers

Welcome back. It has been quite a while since the last blog entry I know. we have been most busy folks. It is important I pause and share a bit for those who actually read our last blog post, just & 2 months over a year ago. Shortly after it's post, I became ill and more so as months went forward - lasting - well still ongoing but at least now there are progressive steps to get me back to the place, perhaps even better, than I was two years ago. All that being said, I stepped down and Tom Johnson, our Managing Director-Education Director and Board Executive Committee stepped up. During that time, a decision was made, with my full blessing, to change the name of the organization from James' House to as a d.b.a. of James House Ltd., our parent 501(c)3 organization. It has proven a wise and more all inclusive and far more branding friendly name to be sure. And it has reduced a great deal of the initial misconceptions that since the guy who founded and was among those who started the organization was an openly Gay HIV+ Man and the name had "House" in its title, this must be a Housing Facility or Assistance organization for HIV+ Gay Men. As such was not the case, the new name better fit both the old and the new Mission Statement & By-Laws. And there were some changes that came about before I left but not fully incorporated until I was somewhat out of pocket. We moved from being an ASO as we had been in 2009 to an organization helping not only those infected with or affected by HIV/AIDS (& STDs) but also those with Cancers (of varying kinds), Diabetes (Type 1 & 2) and Heart Disease (& Stroke Disorders). Like a new garden with endless possibilities it was kept flourishing. Using bits of the old and bits of the new it came to live more vibrant and thriving than before. Exciting, inspired, and encouraging times birthed an empowering new place for us all to live and learn and grow. With the new name came a new logo, site and slogans...

It took some time and by the time I was back in March, still with 2 more surgeries ahead of me, the legal paperwork had been done and the new site was coming along. We lost some folks but we ended up gaining many more so I suppose the old saying about things coming out in the wash is most true in our case. I don't want to spend more time on the past here as most of what it new can be found on the sire and on our new Facebook Events and media page ( Check it out, "Like" it and "Share" it please with all you know. Until folks move off of my page, I will continue to post all of our events, galleries and albums on both pages but in time, it would be nice to have folks more concentrated on the Team and not just one person, me.

A lot has happened in over a year, more than I choose to elaborate upon herein. That can be found in the pictures and post on the FB Events & Media page as indicated above. But there are a few highlights of which I did want to make mention. Each year we have been incorporated, this, incidentally being almost exactly our 3 years and 6 months point, we have seen a greater number of Staff (despite still being a volunteer non-profit organization) new Board Executive Committee Members, more non-fiduciary "Board at Large" Think Tank Members, more Clients Served, more funds raised and more programs successfully executed. Small still though we may yet be, we are growing little by little. While we lost a few "In the House" ("Join Us in the House...James' House") campaign members the new "Friends With Power" ("You have the Power... Power2Endure.") campaign has added new ones. We would like to see more women and peoples of color there though. Of any area, my being down hurt us in that one spot most yet I am confident we will ad new folks representing more diversity in due time.

Of those new faces, in alpha order below are: Ben Cohen, Philip Fusco, Dab Garner, Leggacy, Jack Mackenroth, Tess Malis-Kincaid, Dylan Michael, Sister Ursula Polari, Amber Taylor & Diego Wolf.
A big Round of welcomes to all!!


     Of those retained, the tried and true are: Jess Black, Dan Choi. 
                                           Jaden Cornelious, Tom Goss, Nick Jonas, Reichen Lehmkuhl, 
                                           Rhea Litre, Joshua Miller, Olivia Newton-John & Tony Tripoli.




As we move forward, readers will no doubt observe a more positive focus here in the blog, as well as in our events, programs, client services and more. as our day to day experiences, things I/we find can serve to inspire, encourage or empower those for whom we work, discussions of events and their activities, great people we continue to meet along the way and things of that nature.

Old & New Flowers - Gardens grow stronger with both the rich roots of that which is there with us for some time, or was in the past, or by adding new seedlings that bring new life and new color into our lives. Just as we move or see then end of one relationship or place, often times we see birthed a new and exciting one. How like the gardener we are as we plant new roots in new soil and perhaps plant cuttings from old and dear plants who were with us in days and times gone by. What will they look like? When when they bloom. Will ne plants look like the older ones? Will older ones take on the attributes of the young? What will be the same and what will perhaps be new and different? The excitement is in the discovery, not in the knowing (as if that were under our to control in the first place"). Where's the fun in that?

We choose to water and to tend for those who have sustained us and likewise we can do so with those new friends with whom we elect to nurture new relationships.  In that spirit, I challenge you with this, think of three people in your life who have in big ways or small but profound and significant ways impacted your life in a positive capacity. Picture them now whether they be living or with us still. How did their being influence and/or shape your being who you are today? What did they do, or what do they still do that lifts your spirit to want to be healthier and wiser and more hopeful about tomorrow? What lessons can they still teach you? How can you share those lessons with others in your immediate area?

Yes, I realize I am conjuring up our catch phrases again, at least a couple of them, “Ordinary Miracles”, Think Globally, Act Locally” and “Paying It Forward”. But for the sake of the exercise, I think it helpful for us all to get those concepts into our heads. Often, I believe, it is how we live life that more defines us than our words. Don’t me wrong, words have meaning, words have power but words without action are just that, words, however eloquently (or tritely) they may be phrased. Thoughts, your thoughts have power, power to make things new. Thoughts can become things if given action and belief, over time, to bring you to a different or a more refined way of looking at the same thing.

So, back to the exercise, to the persons who inspired, encouraged or empowered you at any stage/s of your life. I realize thinking of three people might be a challenge for some but if you dig deep, I imagine they are there in the recesses of your heart, your mind, your soul. Go someplace quiet and still and give yourself the permission to be alone with your thoughts. I realize that too can be daunting task for some but go ahead, give it a try. Once still and quiet, shift your focus away from the cares of your day, they will all be there later so leave them be for this brief time. As we move toward World AIDS Day 2012, if you are infected or affected with or by HIV/AIDS (or any other immune system compromising illness/s), give yourself over to this time to reflect as you are able to go to a time when such was not the case. Or if you prefer, simply imagine, for the sake of the exercise, that such is not the case. In other words, put all cares of your present health whatever it may be, aside so that you can clearly focus on those three people and how your life is better today because of them. What joy comes to mind? What memories? What life lessons did they teach or share with you? What are you doing or what can you possibly do now to act upon what you may have learned from each of them?

Write these things down or perhaps start a journal. Keep up with it and reflect on in as you go through the days to come. Some of my most precious healing moments have come from the sweetest of recollections. Some of the most powerful lessons come out of the most challenging of times. Both are valuable. Both can teach us things we can use to make us stronger on our journey, this thing called life.

Words or actions of strength I learned from my three folks have helped me get through many a tough season. The harshest of winters will pass. The focus on these three are my blessings, miracles (ordinary or extraordinary) if you will. And I am thankful each of them and the lessons they taught me. I find they help me see the world in a whole new light. A wise person once said, "The more I learn, the less I know." Learn to let go of the fear of the dar and the negative and let yourself envelope your heart, mind and soul in the new light of a new morning. Where once there was darkness or fear or uncertainty or other such negative imagery, now there is hope and exuberance and expectation of magnificent things to come as I face each new day. It took work, just like working a garden does, yet reflecting on these three very powerful voices I gain strength to forge onward and upward. The new and the familiar blossoms and blooms stir new and old thoughts. You have the choice to find the joy and the beauty in each. Whatever you are going through in your world today, I promise you, it can get better. I pray this can be true for you as it has been, time and time again for me and for others I know. Choose that if you will endeavor to find those three positive, empowering voices, faces, memories or be with them more if they are still wil you. At least give it a go. You have much to gain by simply stepping up, reaching out and receiving the gifts of both the old and the new. You may well surprise yourself at what grows within you. Be safe & be well - Love, James & Team P2E

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The First Blog

Good Evening,
I start this blog with “Good Evening” as most of you who know me well, already know I am nocturnal by nature, a creature of the night as it were. That is not to say I shy away from the light of day, it merely means most of work, my creative process, when I am most usually active is, for me in the still & the quiet of the night. I love the sun, the beach, the pool & all. My days are usually just so busy and seem so planned out there is seldom time to stop to do this sort of thing. That is fine for me. For others I am told, morning serve the same purpose or at the end of one’s workday, perhaps after dinner. For me, it is usually after midnight I can indulge in my inner most thoughts; reflect on the day that has just passed, the ones to follow or to be still in the one that is happening now. So, I say, “Good Evening”.
Some time ago, the concept behind doing this online blog for the site came from friends & my Staff & Board alike. The idea was to think about what we are doing & to write it down. I say we because from time to time there may be other voices here than just my own. I will start & others will add to with their own thoughts & insights of their days, life experiences & so forth. The idea is to share, to convey what I, or others in our James’ House family may be feeling or have felt in various circumstances in the hopes some of it may be of help to others who may have, may be, or will yet find them selves in similar circumstances or share similar experiences. We are all Human. From wherever we may hail or call “home” (if indeed we have found that latter place) we all share the distinction of being and of being human.

While it is not my intent to hurt or to offend, and I and my Staff, Board, or Board at Large, or whomever we may allow to post here, surely will be in somewhat sync with that thought, from time to time, I’m sure someone will elect to be or find themselves offended or off put by comments herein. We have already experienced such flack from time to time with our simple catch phrases; “People Helping People” “One Person At A Time” “Ordinary Miracles” “Paying It Forward” & especially “Think Globally, Act Locally”. Or aspects of our Mission 

Statement, the very idea that we reach out to help Middle Class (American) folks all with Human immune system compromising illnesses who DO NOT & CANNOT get Federally Based Social Services or Assistance (because they made too much when they were healthy enough to work) as opposed to the usual Health and Human Services Clients, those who already get such help seems to confuse some, even upsets others. WE GET IT.

While we applaud the efforts of international relief efforts, so often there is someone down the street, in your town, wherever you may be, who are in need, overlooked & underserved.  We find there are more people than we or 10 Health & Human Service Organizations can help  nearby. And so we focus on helping those in need who are within our reach as opposed to those who are not so much. If you have the time & resources to help both, please do so. As we are a nonprofit organization, working very hard to get the funds we get to help those we can, we chose early on to help our neighbors - our fellow citizens, here in the U.S.A.

The fact we reach out to ALL infected or affected with HIV/AIDS & other Human immune system compromising illnesses not just sub-populations or various targeted communities confuses or offends others. Hence the change last year in our logo design as World Health in Austria taught us how common it is here in the USA to have HIV/AIDS and more than one other immune system compromising illness at the same time. And then we get the fact that we have both Gay & Straight, HIV+ & HIV-, Male & Female, Black & White, & Hispanic or Latino & Who Know & Who Cares folks of various faiths, walks and political beliefs on our Staff or on our Boards bothers others. 
Here’s a clue - WE KNOW

 That’s kind of a “Lion’s & Tigers & Bears, Oh My!” kinda dumb thing to me - We don’t mind. People are just that 
- People. (Human) Equality… 
And finally the fact that we work with Holistic & Alternative Health & Wellness Experts as well as AMA MDs & the Pharmaceutical folks fries a few other circuits. CLUE IN – BIG PICTURE - It takes a lot of money to doHousing & Utility Assistance & EDU Seminars in Georgia (& Coast to Coast) & Counseling/Referral & other Assistance Services.

Such is the nature of man. Abraham Lincoln said it best with something along the lines of “You can please most of the people most of the time but you can’t please all of the people all of the time” & he was right. In the building of this thing called James’ House, I have been accused of being too gay, not gay enough, religious, not religious enough, political, not political enough & such nonsense. 

Being a Gay, HIV+ over 40, Christian, Proud to be An American, yet honored equally to be a citizen of the world, a guy who used to lean more right than left until his party left him to lean more the other way, I get all sorts of fun mail. As we support Health & Wellness from a more AMA MDs meet (not vs.) Holistic &/or Alternative approach I have been called a kook. As I have friends old & new “from Preachers to Porn Stars”, even a handful of politicians (on both sides of the aisle and in the middle) & lawyers & artists (actors, models, singers, dancers, writers, comedians, etc), gay, straight, black, white, old, young, Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Pagan, Atheist, Agnostic & more, 
one can imagine the fun & colorful comments I get. I don’t care. If they are human, I have an open ear, mind, sometimes even an open heart. To be in the world with all of these other varied & diverse peoples I would do myself, & them, a great disservice to say I was not also Of the world. So there it is, I said it. 

 I do not have to agree or support their ideals. I do not have to like or love what they do or say or the manner in which they choose to live their lives. I will not join them in their sadness or their anger nor will I condone their actions when it stands to violate the rights, freedoms or feelings (meaning verbal, physical or emotional battering not a difference of opinion or lifestyle) of other humans (or including to themselves or often to other life on earth itself). As a result of not joining in certain rhetoric or dogma I get challenged from all directions. Again, I do not care. 

My Mother used to have a saying from a favorite song, “I can’t walk roads of anger, I ain’t got the time.” 

Having been raised in an old political, etiquette minded family on my Mother’s side, by more worldly thoughts that fly from the hip or off the top of the head from my Father’s side, I sought to use both to their best advantage in life but always with a bent toward making for the chance of positive, intelligent discourse even in areas wherein their may be differing points of view. That has served me well and it is from this point of view I shall continue to operate. I encourage my Staff and Board to do the same all the while realizing they are free peoples all entitled to their respective thoughts and feelings and experiences which may from time to time be different from my own. So, this said in my all too brief manner – oh yes, forgot to mention that part, I am seldom a master of brevity – here we go, here I go with this blog.

If someone does not like me because I am gay, because I have black or straight friends (Staff or Board) or those of another faith, that I treat women as equals, it worries me not. If I am shunned because I will not submit to dictates to the edicts of a denomination or political viewpoint or have friends who happen to and you don’t like that or them, it worries me not. If I am laughed at because I value the opinions of the older and the younger generations, the lessons–both the good and the bad of the past (World History I mean), it worries me not. If someone does not like the clothes, customs, folkways mores or norms I (or those of which are worn &/or expressed by those with whom I associate), it worries me not. I use the “I” here most emphatically as I try my best to protect my “family” from the negative. Throw rocks at me. Leave my family (blood, friends, Staff & Board) out of petty attacks. I hire diversity. I seek diversity. I like diversity. That is Human Equality to me. We have the right to be free from persecution (religious or otherwise) in this country last time I checked my constitution (If you are unsure, ask Mr. Jefferson). 

As said, we help U.S. Citizens. My Father & his family were immigrants to this nation fleeing rubble laden London just after World War II who did due process to become law abiding, contributing citizens to the society at large so spare me the racist line if I do not think the same is fair and equitable for all who seek to live and work here. Having said same I will not comply with thoughts that it is okay to mistreat or to belittle those not yet through that due process. If a person has committed a crime and served their time (with some exceptions, rape, incest or child or spousal abuse), I believe society’s definition of justice in this land, the law of the land, has been served, then I have no right to continue to treat such persons as criminals. The sins of the past are just that, the sins of the past. What has been done to certain people in this land that I love is seemingly unfair, unforgivable, horrific at times, but still I choose to live in the present & love all with equal merit. I will not cater to a “yesterday makes me a perpetual victim, entitled to all sorts of extra perks & benefits others with different family histories do  not enjoy” mentality. Equal is Equal is Equal. What is good for one is good for All Humans. Lest we be unclear, this means Equal Pay for Equal Work. This means Equal Benefits for the poor or underserved, wherever, whenever or whoever they may be. This means Service Men and Women whose lives are on the line serving their country should breath free to Be who they where were born to be so that they may be their best selves not stuffed away in closets. This means I, and everyone else has the right to marry whatever Adult with which they chose to share their lives. If you don’t like Abortion, then don’t have one. If you don’t like the idea of gay marriage, don’t marry a gay person. But Do not go about battering others with your senseless rhetoric and dogma pretending it serves some sincere high and lofty religious or patriotic purpose when in this day and age, people are slowly coming around to the cold hard truth that its all about the money and the power. Those so called “patriotic” or “religious” POVS so many bigots and bullies have hidden behind for so long, too long are now just sad, tired arguments. Grow up!

I recall a man, not so long ago who said he looked forward to a day when people would be regarded not by the color of their skin, where they were from by heritage, or their faith/beliefs but by “the content of their character”.

At James’ House we teach and espouse Health and Wellness for all Humans. To us, that means overall heath and wellness in all areas and in all aspects. There is the physical, emotional, physiological, sexual and the financial & more. We cannot emphasize all aspects of Personal Advocacy enough. We encourage a co-mingling of conventional Licensed AMA MD Practices in sync with Holistic or Alternative Professionals certified in their respective fields. With each, or with both, remember, you call the shots. It's your body. Think for yourselves. Ignorance or placing your trust in someone else will never be a smart place to be (neither in a Medical Practice office nor in your personal or financial life). Be yourself. Trust Yourself. Educate Yourself. Love yourself. To love others, any others, you must love yourself first.  No one completes another. Two broken, needy or codependent halves do not make a whole – two wholes come together as one. Love others as you love yourself is not an act of sacrifice. If Love is a sacrifice (or a battlefield)) to you, you missed the point. CLUE THE DEER IN THE HEADLIGHTS BLUR! 

Be, don’t pretend to be, just “Be” “YOU”. You are incredible! Within you is greatness to be, have or do whatever YOU choose. You may have been told many things over many years. What others, family, friends, siblings, spouses, partners, peers, or society or groups of organized peoples have said you should be, have or do is up to You not, NOT, those other voices. Yours is the choice. Its Your Mind, Your Body, Your Health, Your Life, Your Money, etc. Be your own Miracle. 

Freedom is about your right to exercise your mind (even if you are wrong and it kills you - not talking suicide here - foolishness) and your personal values in such a manner and in such an event your exercise of your freedom does not violate the rights, feelings (meaning: verbal, emotional or physical battering -not a difference of opinion or lifestyle- or safety of other humans, or to often other life on earth itself).

Violence (Abuse) is not an action of an intelligent person respecting the rights & freedoms of others unless in times of war or in defense of others (e.g. law enforcement). To shoot or attack someone because they will not yield to your mindset is abhorrent to our way of thinking. With that said I/we subscribe to the concept of non violent conflict resolution in nearly every situation with which we can imagine ourselves being involved. We will not be anti- anyone or anything BUT we very well may be pro or in favor of many People, ideas or things as long as each are voiced in positive expressions. 

Read that again if it was not clear. That one is a stumbling block for many. Said another way, we may well agree with an idea, just not its packaging or slogans and therefore its negative or rhetoric attack ads will not appear in what we do (or on our site) even though the baseline idea is a main public talking point in which we heartily believe. We will not rant or protest or batter others who do not believe as we do. We will not be bullied, not by any individual or group. We have People, Human Beings in need of real help in real time. Politics is not our gig. If it is yours, roll with it and be happy with what you do. While we may respect the efforts of many, Politics is not our mission. Instilling Hope is our mission. 

Words Mean things. Thoughts become things. Ills of the past can be overturned & made right. Education is Bliss & it can be easy. It does not have to come by battering someone or some segment of society until they yield to what you want.

I do often say outrageous things. I always have and I always shall. Make no mistake, things I say are not said in haste or without many, many long years of thinking. If I say it I mean it. If I say it, I believe it to be truth. If I don’t say it, I may disagree or it may well be that I may not have an opinion on that subject. Or better yet I may believe that my opinion matters not in that particular matter. And lets be clear. My truth does not have to be yours. That hearkens back to freedom of choice to be, have or do whatever you wish, including and certainly not limited to thinking for yourself.

While I have taken some time to make plain, plain as I/we feel possible, all that James' House is and is not, I do hope 
get the fact this first blog entry is somewhat longer (and more pointed) than any to follow. 
I/we felt an importance to get some of the misnomers about the stereotypes of what this particular Health & Human Services Nonprofit Organization was all about, above and beyond that which was and is found in our FAQs section of the site which more aptly deals with Client Services, the Housing/Utility Assistance program, legal disclaimers & such.

In the future, I do promise more upbeat, less vitriolic posts. For myself & for the Staff & the Board/s, it has been a 
a rocky few years as folks came to know exactly who, what, why & so forth this thing called James’ House (a.k.a. legal name - JAMES HOUSE LTD) is as we have, from inception, created a nonprofit something unlike any other we have seen.

So many is the time one hears nonprofit, or that word we do not use, “Charity”, out of respect and courtesy in deference to our Clients as we feel with such identification often comes a mind conjured image of something entirely different than what or who we are, speaking to the nature of what, who and why our primary clients are comprised and are selected.

Whether it be an EDU Event, an Outreach Event or as a Client or Contributor involved in one or more of our most unique approaches to Housing/Utility &/or Counseling/Referral Assistance or Services, we believe we can and will meet your needs. We are hopeful this initial blog answers just about all primary questions. We are sure there’ll be more but this will do for now.

 As a wise & insightful man once so succinctly put it, “NUFF SAID”.  Be safe & be well – Love, James