Wednesday, January 4, 2017

I Still Think Of You

Something that may be of surprise to know is I was a loner for most of my childhood. Elementary school to middle school was such a lonely time for me. Most of the time was spent alone at home staring out of my aunt's bedroom window hoping for the phone to ring. Anticipation was clear. I desired to be around people my own age who wanted to play with me. Human interaction was needed. 

At some point in my life I achieved meeting someone and becoming best friends with that person. There was a lot of commonality in our life, cultural similarities and family issues. It was cosmic how alike our daily lives were. At times I felt the friendship was a dream. Why? Well I had gone on without friends for a very long time. Thoughts of inadequecy crept in. Even what I would say now to have been depression. So when I would be called many times throughout the week by my friend Nick, I was exuberant. Ecstatic! Someone wanted to be around me. 

It is such a huge blow to yourself when someone you've known for such a huge amount of your life is suddenly no longer living. The notice came via text. My friend Nick was dead. No longer alive. His sister had texted me from his cell phone. At first glance and by the audible specific tone I assigned him I knew who the message was coming from. What was in that message forever changed my world. 

My best friend of 17 years died so suddenly. His last words to me in our last phone conversation was, "Joël, be you, let your glorious light shine through. Many people don't and won't ever understand you. Yes, you are gay, Latino and sometimes there is a swish and sway in your walk. So what! What makes me love you and cherish you most is you truly don't care what anyone thinks of you. You are you. Yes folks have come and gone in your life. The ones that have always supported you will let you know by their actions. Words hold weight but the actions hold the impact. Go and impact this world. This land was made for you and her." 

The above statements are always in my head. I see him in my head. I feel him around. Sometimes I even get a waft of his cologne he would wear. Signs, feelings, senses and thoughts permeate every facet of my world. It is constant.

My friend was supportive of me blogging/vlogging, supportive of me as a parent and supportive of me as an individual. I never had the chance to thank him for that conversation. I didn't get to see him ever again and or hear that distinct voice of his. I feel him with me every single day of my life. His body may be placed to rest and his spirit may have left his body. However he has never left my side. 

Now I am able to call so many others friends and supporters of me now. It has led me to many groups, organizations, conventions, events and more. Life is full of many surprises. I welcome where it has taken me to. 

Monday, January 2, 2017

I Owe It All To You

Words are often my forte. They flow out so quickly. Expressing myself through that is a natural process. The ebb and flow of it all is not something that is difficult for me to do. Even when I have a quick witted reply to a statement, in my head I'm pondering where do I get these things from. 

Well it is currently something that I have had trouble with. Words have been slung at me that deeply hurt. Ignoring it is something that everyone can do. What is also a fact is there is a limit to the amount of hate in the form of words that can permeate even the thickest of skins. 

What I have learned over the year is if that is all someone can do then I am really truly winning. I've won where I am being heard, seen and I am having an impact. Somewhere someone who is similar to me is able to relate to my shared stories.  

So I knew. I was sure of it. I've known since a very very young age. My heart was into things that most would laugh at. It wasn't just my sexuality. Dance, theater, color guard and cheerleading. Volleyball and tennis. For some reason it categorized me automatically. My young mind didn't know what that was. People were very mean and cruel to me. It still happens now.

As I aged, matured and experienced the world I learned more. It was time for me to venture out and discover the land. It was made for you and her, right?! So I did just that. What a journey that has been. Oh it has! 

What I'm proud of is that I made mistakes, have stories to tell, learned more about myself and survived a hell of a lot more. Strife came and went. My previous husband passed away in my arms. A best friend of 17 years also left too soon. Even my mother passing away...I still think of all of the above. Life made me stronger and I learned a lot about myself. I owe it all to myself. 

Anyhow, my point of my story is that I am happy with myself. I love myself. I accept every single facet of me. The quirks and even the flaws. All of them. Now are all of these unique to me, no. Some are, yes. I have a lot in common with many. If you're a friend of mine then you will know exactly what I mean. 

Oh and if you believe the last sentence above then leave a comment as to what that brings to mind for you in reference to me. Remember that you are in charge of yourself. You are you. The best of anything is inside you. Stand tall, chin up and forge ahead. I pride myself on always marching to the funky beat of my own drum. Self love, acceptance and surrendering to yourself is how I've succeeded. Maybe it can work for you. 

Thursday, December 22, 2016

A Macy's Heart of Haiti Holiday

Holiday time is about spending time with family, loved ones and making memories. Yes there is gift giving, gatherings and more. One way that Macy's is helping spread opportunities for local artists of Haiti is by providing a sustainable income for those in need. Let me tell you what this all means and how you are able to 'give back' this holiday season.

Recently Haiti experienced a hurricane this year and a devastating earthquake in 2010. Macy's made the bold decision to carry a product line made by local artisans of Haiti. Again that was in 2010, it wasn't easygoing back then. Today, seven years later, the products are still being sold. That is just wonderful. I was gifted a Heart of Haiti product. A lovely snowflake ornament. It is a handcrafted product which makes it that much more unique.

If you didn't know, Haiti is a country rich in the arts. The product line offers home décor with many decorative options. I put the ornament right atop my Christmas tree. It resembles a star to me. It makes the Macy's Heart of Haiti idea stay fresh in my mind every time I see it. The trade-not-aid concept is an opportunity to make a difference. So when purchasing gifts this holiday season consider giving something from the product line. With Macy's Heart of Haiti, people are employed and can make a livelihood.

Here is where to purchase from the Gifts That Give Hope Collection, simply click the link Also this video tells the story of the Macy's Heart of Haiti link so give it a view as well. I now have a new piece to add to my ornament collection. A yearly tradition is born as the snowflake ornament will be my tree topper. Happy Holidays to all.

*I was gifted a product from the Macy's Heart of Haiti line however all the thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Know Me First

What anyone may think of me is none of my business. How I am perceived is none of my business. Any personal feelings about me is none of my business.

Anyone picking up a theme here? Well the theme is what is unknown to me is truly none of my business. If someone chooses to let me know their feelings, sentiment, personal belief of judgement of me or anything to do with me on my social media platforms - then it becomes my business.

The act of posting the comment has made that person known. Even if anonymous. It is easier said than done to ignore the comments. Sure let it roll off my back. Keep my head held high. Don't acknowledge it. Let it alone. Keep decorum and ignore adversity. Let good thoughts be my sword and shield.

Well that isn't what happens all the time. I've experienced verbal abuse at a very young age. At 3 years I remember an uncle saying something mean to me and locked me in a room. I was horrified not at being locked in the room but at the sound of hearing 'no one will love you if you're like that!' and all I thought was 'like what?'

Words have played a huge part in my relationship even with my own father. He has said some very detrimental consistent statements to me during my tween, teen and young adulthood. Even when I wasn't living at home I still had suffered his abuse. That realization to me was a strong knock me off my feet moment. It truly did happen when I allowed my mind to open up to the thoughts I had closed off.

Abuse even verbally has had a lasting effect on me which I have broken. Yes the words that are used on my social media platforms are very hurtful, rude and vulgar. Not every moment bothers me. There are times when it does. C'est la vie, right!?

How am I proceeding now? Well my journey is still moving ahead. You will see that my posts are still going. The blogs are coming for sure and my YouTube channel is ready. The new era of Joël is here.

What I've learned is I'm much more valuable than I ever gave myself credit for. People want to see me and hear my story. I've inspired people, that was a very 'Wow' moment. Recently learned too. My children benefit from my fearlessness. The support that is around is unmatched.

Lastly, all of what you've read thus far is a daily process of what I work against and through to be productive. My work begins in my mind first. Then my heart and then in the actual 'action' of it all. Constantly tending, mending and adjusting to make it all happen.

Surrendering to myself allows the best me to come forth. Accepting of it all helps me identify, target and focus. It's taken time but the best part is I'm so happy with myself.
That's the most important thing. I LOVE me. Self love has paved the way for me.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Reindeer Romp at The L.A. Zoo

Another adventure occurred right before the holidays. I was invited to cover the Reindeer Romp at the L.A. Zoo on Nov. 20th. Such a treat to go and see a reindeer family with two babies in their Reindeer Village. Anyone is able to see these new babies and more until January 8th, 2017. That means plan your trip now before the Reindeer Romp is gone. 

Soft velvety hide and smooth antlers
Well first off my son and I entered the Reindeer Village home to get up close and personal with the two baby reindeer. They were quite big for babies but docile and shy when moving. I remember the zoo attendant that was on sight mentioned the reindeer being several months old. My son and I were able to touch an antler too. A new fact we learned about the reindeer is female reindeer retain their antlers until they give birth to their young. Male reindeer shed their antlers each winter. 

Now that's a groovy pink flamingo....yes!
Now what else can you expect on a weekend visit to the L.A. Zoo. A lot. Their is the reindeer keeper talks twice daily. My son and I experienced one of those. Hence the new antler fact we learned. There was also holiday crafts which our antler headbands did get wet from the light rain so I don't have any proof that we did them. The memory of it will suffice. Some more activities to experience are the Swazzle Holiday Extravaganza puppet shows, seasonal music entertainment by the Beverly Belles and a rotating schedule of animals unwrapping gifts of their own. 

One of the baby reindeer eating
Lions like to cuddle...
It did rain a lot more toward the end of our visit to the zoo. However that didn't stop my son and I from really taking in all the zoo had to offer. We saw a trio of hippopotamus in their area. Plus it was feeding time. Boy that was a sight. The male hippo was treated to 3 heaping amounts of veggies and watermelon. That mouth of his was very large. That was a very special treat as it was a first time, in real life, to witness the feeding of a hippo. 

Again we meandered around the zoo. Elephants, lions, giraffes, a slew of various monkeys, gorillas and birds too. My son took a great amount of photos with his phone so some of those photos made it into this blog post. His perspective was a bonus. I enjoyed all the various facial expressions he had throughout the day. Before we left we did go back to the Reindeer Village home to see the two reindeer babies again. Such curious creatures that walk unsteady here and there but so big to be so young. 

Both baby reindeer laying cute! 
I highly recommend visiting the L.A. Zoo before January 8th, 2017 which then the Reindeer Romp rides back to the north pole. It isn't often you get to see them, experience them and learn new facts about them. My son and I learned a few things. For more information visit their website and go experience the romping and more. 

*This is a sponsored post. Any opinions expressed are mine and mine alone. 

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

KODO Design: A New Mazda CX-5

One aspect of the LA Auto Show that I was able to experience thanks to was the new KODO designed Mazda CX-5. This is a car that has a new stance, newly formulated paint and more. Another insider aspect was meeting Julian, part of the design team for the new CX-5. His perspective and recount of the car's design process allowed for a better understanding of this particular car. So let me get to it.

A sales detail about this model is it accounts for 25% of their annual sales in around 120 countries. An aspect that Julian shared about Mazda is the emotional connection with customers that they dream of creating. So there is a lot of work put into making that dream come to fruition. There were a few key points he touched on about the invigoration of the body and also the joy of driving. Like focusing on the 'stance' of the car as Julian stated at their brand press event.

The all new CX-5 refines every aspect of Mazda's technology, design and it is the first step of that journey. Mazda is determined to break through traditional trade-off between driving pleasure and passenger comfort. An indicator of that is how the new color creation and process led to a rich red that at various angles has a different hue and catches light to these varying shade notions. That color was named Soul Red Crystal which combines vivd highlights and crystalline depths which in turn accentuates the new design.

I will mention some new features both on the exterior and interior of this new design. For the exterior there is a lower center of gravity and a 10mm wider front and rear tread giving the CX-5 a more powerful stance. A front grille has a mesh section that has a three-dimensional pattern. So sporty looking. Now for some interior features the instrumentation cluster has an outward flow from the center steering wheel giving an ambience of roomy width in the cabin space. One feature that stood out to me was the natural wood and metal combination giving it a fresh depth expression.

Overall I see Mazda put time into their re-design process and kept their eye on design, though out appointments with instrumentation and focused on a new color process as well. Their traditional and long held design process is a labor intensive process. It was great to see, hear and experience. Thank you again to She Buys Cars and Mazda for getting a more in depth look at their newly designed CX-5.

*This blog post is in partnership with The content and photos are all created by me. This is a sponsored blog post.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

The LA Auto Show

Kia Optima EX - what I'm driving it! 
So do you like to drive fast or slow? Are you into sporty or luxury accoutrements? Does it matter if it is a small or large sized vehicle? Is there concern for the environment associated when thinking about cars? Hopefully one or more of things will be answered for me when I attend the LA Auto Show on Nov. 16th & 17th with

This will be my first time attending this event. I'm going to all the advance press/media events as a 'dad' blogger. It is a dream come true to be able to see and experience the auto show up close and early! I am a car guy. Cars are like my oxygen. I live and breathe them. One example of that is here and here. Oh and did I mention that Kia sent me a car too!
Kia Sportage EX and my son

Kia Sedona XL 
Driving in style and luxury all around Los Angeles enjoying the California sun. What did I get sent?! A 2016 Optima EX in a rich burgundy with touches of deep purple plum. The interior is a nice grey leather with comfort and luxury in one. Okay I digress right. Can you tell I love the car?! Cars are one of my things, my joy and passion. I dig them. Yes I do. Oh and one thing is there is a giveaway for some tickets to the LA Auto Show. Click on the link below and enter for a chance to get tickets to go and enjoy all the refinements and advances in the many car brands out there.

I included some pics of various Kia cars I've experienced already. The first thing up for me with the LA Auto Show is the new Mazda CX-5 Reveal Party. Stay tuned for all the wheels, technology and more.

Kia Sorento V6 AWD with 3rd Row Seat

*I've partnered with She Buys Cars for this event. My opinion and content are mine alone and not influenced in any shape or form by any party. This is a sponsored post.

Dressed for Succes