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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

how christmas stole the grinch

I feel sad that this year I admit freely that I have little or no Christmas spirit in me. It’s not that I don’t believe in and celebrate the birth of Jesus, but rather that I live in a cold, commercial and abrasive town known as New York City that sometimes acts as a barrier to my ability to be kind, loving, thoughtful and more Christlike.

Usually my heart is beaming with Christmas joy, holiday music and a sense of charity towards others, but this year something was missing. I didn’t attend any holiday parties, serve the homeless or foster youth or go caroling; I felt no need to be filled with love and share that love with others. I usually pride myself on presenting my church’s congregation with a Christmas song medley masterpiece that I mulled over since September, not this year; I just didn’t have it in me.

Other than being a resident of New York City, I can’t help to wonder what else has contributed to this down-trodden spirit of mine. I see commercials on television and YouTube clips that friends share on Facebook of others sharing the magic and love of Christmastime with their loved ones or those in need and though I may be touched for a moment, there hasn’t being that deep impact I look forward to each year. This is the time of year I look forward to when I feel like despite all that is wrong in my life or in the world, everything will be okay. It’s when I recognize that Christ was born on Earth long ago, He came to help mankind and He did through His awesome and everlasting Atonement. That’s the good news and the joy of the gospel that I know to be true and that I feel within me; He came, He lived, He taught, He led the way, He died for us and now He lives again!

So why can’t I allow even these thoughts I am writing permeate my cold heart and make it grow three sizes in one day like the Grinch when he sees Christmas come anyway despite his trying to destroy it? I am sure the answer is to ask for God’s love and feel the Christmas spirit, to help others feel it through acts of service and to find ways to surround myself with uplifting situations that spark within me the feelings of charity, peace, joy and love. I suppose this problem isn’t necessarily related to or isolated to Christmas either; maybe it’s time to find time each day to allow God to take control and priority in my life and not my own selfish desires.

Every Christmastime I think of the gifts that were bestowed to the baby Jesus, Mary and Joseph. Faith, love and devotion were given by the shepherds; gold, frankincense and myrrh given by the wise men. The gifts  of the wise men were not given as mere tokens, but as support to the family who were escaping the wicked king. They would need these gifts to buy to food, supplies, transportation and to buy passageway into Egypt. These seem small gifts compared to the mighty gift that Jesus would someday give to the world, but they were necessary for their physical survival, just as the Atonement is necessary for our spiritual survival.

Around this time I wonder what gift I could give to Christ for His love and many, great sacrifices. Of course, no gift that I can give will measure up to the eternal measure of the Atonement. All I can truly give the Savior is my heart, my faith, love and devotion as the shepherds did. I feel that the greatest gift I can give to the Lord is to allow Him into my heart and let Him lead me. In Job 23:10 it reads, “But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.” As I allow Him to test and try me, He refines me into a worthy gift for the kingdom; I come forth refined as gold; a gift fit for a King.

I may have not found a way to melt my heart completely this year, but it helps that I am around family and that I know I have friends and family around the world who love me, even if I am Grinch. My Christmas wish is to allow the gifts of our King into my heart and as it permeates, I may return that gift to Him in the form of my faith, love and devotion. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

You have been caught Jey Walking!

Friday, December 10, 2010

A Letter and Call for Action from a friend

A Letter and Call for Action from a friend:

"Dear Friends, Family and Business Associates-

Recently I vowed to serve my nation as a member of the Armed Forces. It is something that I feel compelled to do, something that I feel is right, something that I feel is my role. It may seem out of character, but truly what is out-of-character about wanting to protect and serve the nation I call home? Being a member of the military requires the highest moral standards and requires living up to a creed of excellence far above the rest of society.

However, there is legislation that prevents all member of the armed service from serving with Honor in everything that they do. This legislation, Don't Ask Don't Tell, requires service men and women to lie about something so very trivial. It is also discriminatory and flies in the face of the very freedoms that the military seeks to protect.

"Liberty and justice for all." That is the pledge of allegiance that I remember saying each and every day as a young school boy. I don't recall saying 'liberty for those that i like and not for anyone else', or 'justice for those I deem religiously acceptable,' or 'liberty and justice all except the gays.' That wasn't the lesson that I was
taught. I was taught by my parents, my teachers, my friends that anyone with a dream and a desire to abide by the laws of this land that protect ALL could achieve their dream and become great. So I ask each of you to please support the repeal of DADT and support those men and women that seek to become great and do great things in the service of this nation.

Regardless of your faith, your political party, or your personal feelings this is the right thing to do and must be done. Please stand with the President, whether you like him or not, as he tries to repeal Don't Ask Don't Tell.

Please call your Congressmen and ask them to support the Repeal of DADT

Contact your Senators and ask them to support equality for all and Repeal DADT

I just did will you join me? 

-N. E.

You have been caught Jey Walking!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

please exit to the left

Another World AIDS Day has come and gone. This year I have resisted becoming too involved with all the ceremonies, news of progress, politics, policy and the many obstacles that still stand in the way of a true cure. I have glanced at the news as it has come and I do believe we're getting closer, but for me I have to focus on other parts of my life because HIV is not who I am.

After being diagnosed five years ago, I have gone all over the place with this disease; low T-cells, high T-cells, undetectable, detectable, healthy and not so healthy. I started taking three pills a day to help suppress my high viral load; now I take just one. I now take Lexapro to buffer the side effects of my potent HIV pill, a prescribed daily vitamin, medication for my thyroid problem and prescribed Naproxen to alleviate my arthritis. At only six pills a day, I understand that I am fully blessed by God, medicine and modern-day science because I'm alive and others are not. I will never really be able to complain about this disease because I will most likely never have a reason to. More people with HIV/AIDS are living longer like my mother who at 62 years old is at least a 20 year old survivor. Long life is certainly something to be thankful for. This recent Thanksgiving I sat at my table with my roommates and thanked God for my health and strength; in one simple phrase: L'Chaim or 'to life' as my Jewish family around the world would say. That said: Happy Hanukkah my friends and family; may the lights of the menorah shine long and bright! Thank God for the miracles, redemption, mighty deeds, saving acts and wonders that He wrought for our ancestors and for us today!

Moving on...

Lately, I have been dreaming a lot because my HIV medication's side effects include vivid dreams, hallucinations and sometimes, night terrors. Most nights I have three separate dreams that are usually unrelated. The first dream is usually associated with whatever comes to mind as I fall asleep like what I just finished watching on TV, a recent conversation or random thoughts from the day. The second dream is usually related to me and/or my family members and is based on past events from reality; these can be the most frightening and I usually wake up shortly after they end. The third dream is usually associated with something crazy, random and probably more of a hallucination than anything else. By that time, my cat has climbed into my bed and started attacking my hands or face, sirens and construction outside begin to become louder and my stomach hurts for food.

The other night I had this dream that was very powerful to me and I woke up with some weird feelings about what occurred. The dream was the second one of the night, so I felt it was about me, but I wasn't in it that I could tell. The dream took place in the Garden of Eden and I watched the events unfold involving God, Adam and Eve take place that wasn't exactly how the Bible tells it in my mind. I remember Adam and Eve being very innocent and blissfully ignorant, but they were frustrated because they weren't sure what else to do other than enjoy life in the garden naming animals and laying around naked. Plus, they wanted to be like God and they sensed something was missing from their lives that caused them to be unlike Him. They were constantly looking for ways to be different, but they always reverted back to being innocent and ignorant instead of changing who they were and what they did.

Later in the dream, Eve gave into temptation and Adam followed her because he wanted to see what it was like and didn't want to be alone. Was this the first act of peer pressure? Probably not. But, Adam and Eve were excited, scared, full of joy and sadness simultaneously. They weren't able to control their new-found emotions and feelings. They hid from God because although they were glad they had these new feelings, it went against what they were told to do: don't eat this fruit.

When God confronted them, Adam and Eve didn't cower before Him; they argued with Him, they cried, they tried to explain why their decision was right, they didn't understand why God would put the fruit there if He didn't want them to take it. The argument went on for some time, but finally God told them they had to leave, but that He still loved them dearly. Adam and Eve wept, but they obeyed God and followed His angel out of the garden they knew to be home and into the rough, callous Earth that would be their new home.

It was a very dramatic dream and it made me feel angry and sad because this deep part of me says to myself: I don't want to leave the garden, I don't want to be cut off from your presence, I don't want to feel pain, but I do want to love, follow and be like you, Father. Why must it be like this?

The answer is in the good news; the gospel plan of happiness and salvation.

I feel this dream is so relevant to me because there is a deep part of me that doesn't want to leave the garden, or be cut off or to feel pain, but I have to because I have eaten the fruit. So, here I am on this rough, callous Earth still desiring to love, follow and be like my Father.

Later in the dream I saw Adam and Eve struggle for years and years to stay close to God, keep commandments and live their earthly lives. In the dream it took Adam years to be worthy of God's priesthood and to work miracles in His name. It took years for the altar sacrifices to be worthy enough for God's approval and blessing, but they still did it and pressed on.

How am I not in the same boat as Adam and Eve in this dream?

I am struggling to stay close to God, to follow Him and live this earthly life. I do press forward, doing what I can or am willing to do, but I don't feel it is enough to be worthy for His approval and blessings. I am sure Adam and Eve, in this dream, said to God, "I want, I want, I want" and never received because they needed to grow and be tested; in many ways I am in the same situation.

I know this has come up a few times on this blog and within conversations I've had with many of you and others. I do want to be worthy for God's approval and blessings. I do want to be re-baptized and have all my blessings restored and others bestowed upon me. Right now, though, it feels like I keep saying I want, I want, I want and I'm not placing sacrifices upon the altar that show my true sacrifice and desires. In many ways, I feel like I have lost the knowledge, power and willingness to do it anymore and overcome the obstacles I face which are not unlike many of yours and others'.

I believe in the power of dreams and visions and I know that God has given me the gift to interpret dreams and visions properly so that I may draw closer to Him. I know that this dream tells me that everyone, including Adam and Eve, have had to and do fight and struggle to love, follow and be like God.

To live this earthly life, we give up the innocence, the ignorant bliss and the constant presence of God and we must trek forward through trials, tribulations, pain, sorrow, loss and sadness. The good news of the gospel is that we have not been left alone to do any of this on our own because of the great Atonement of Jesus Christ, our Savior, the true gospel restored by Joseph Smith, the many revelations, keys, ordinances and blessings of the Church of Jesus Christ, a living, modern-day prophet and the power and gift of the Holy Ghost. All these things bring joy, happiness, love, life, blessings, gifts, gain and peace.

And to all this I say once again, L'Chaim! Thank God for the miracles, redemption, mighty deeds, saving acts and wonders that He wrought for our ancestors and for us today!

You have been caught Jey Walking!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Seventh Sun

I am currently working on my other blog,  
The Seventh Sun: A Collection of the Creative,
that is comprised of my lyrics, poetry, short-stories and soon, artwork.

I am basically going through all my creative work and laboriously transcribing every handwritten work onto my blog so it's easier to access and save.

I hope that you will take the time to read my work. Creative writing and art in all its forms are a large part of who I am.

Here are some poems that I haven't published on the blog yet, that I wanted to share with you:

"Morning Prayer"

sometimes living in this world
it seems like i am all alone and it is a little scary
but when i fall on my knees, plead and pray to god,
i know that christ is with me

i do not always remember
to keep hope and faith in my heart
when i forget them altogether
that is when the spirit seems to part

i bow my head so i don't go too far
then i know that he hears me
and even answers my prayers
he sends me all the comfort that i need
and releases me from my captor's snare

just a little faith and a lot of hope will suffice
to feel the great, unconditional love of jesus christ
that is why i thank god, heavenly father above
for our morning prayers together
and his many gifts of love


"Bread of Life; Living Waters"

in memory of his sacrifice
when jesus gave up his life
to give his body and his blood
was to give us his greatest love
though he surely, for us, had to die
the lord omnipotent did surely rise


"My Shepherd"

how many times must i wander
from thy flock, oh lord?
how many days must i spend lost,
wounded, alone and scared?

i cannot help but to cry
"where are you lord in my hour of need?"
i am afraid i can cry no more
lest the wolves find my weakness before thee.

my shepherd, my lord, my savior , my friend;
i pray do not leave me in the wilderness to die.
come to my aid and rescue; please save me,
i am wounded and broken where i lie.

my shepherd, my lord, my savior, my friend;
come to me, bandage my wounds and carry me home i pray.
put me on thy shoulders and show me thy mercy;
grant me thy peace, thy love and thy grace.
my shepherd, my lord;
carry me home to stay.


"I Have Slipped"

oh my shepherd and my savior,
wilt thou bend thy ears to my voice?

oh my lord and my friend,
wilt thou give they peace to my soul?

oh my rock and my healer,
wilt thou mend my broken heart?

oh my messiah and my redeemer,
wilt thou live to make me whole?


Thanks you for your support in all of my many endeavors.

You have been caught Jey Walking!

Friday, October 22, 2010

when i get knocked down, i get up again

My greatest source of anxiety in life has always been that I feel like I have to be a certain person to so many different people; to the point where I am unsure of who I really am. The blessing of being able to adapt to so many types and backgrounds of people is that I feel I can have a better sense of empathy and compassion for them; especially in times of need. This is nothing new, I was like this growing up; I always had different sets of friends; I always wore clothing to coincide with whatever group I was hanging out with, I always talked the way they did, etc. and the groups never meshed so without these groups I failed to recognize myself.

I guess my point is that, like some people, I am still trying to pin down who I am, what I am, my purpose, my identity; outside of being a child and son of God. I know the Gospel of Jesus Christ is true, so I know that my eternal identity is really all that matters, but in mortality we are here to flesh out the other wonderful parts of who we are; to be tested, learn and grow beyond our pre-mortal experience or lack of. I know if I want to truly grow and be grounded, my life here needs to be rooted in gospel living, but frankly, at this point, I have all but given up on trying to feel the spirit or communicate with God. I love feeling the spirit, I love stability, I love happiness, growth and knowledge, but after so many years of struggling with my issues of addiction, abandonment, abuse and anxiety, I have reached a point where I am simply gliding and it's no picnic; when the storms come, I get blown away or knocked down.

Nearly six years ago I chose to be excommunicated because I knew I was only doing myself more harm than good bringing condemnation upon myself as a priesthood holder and member of the Church. My resolve has been since I was diagnosed with HIV to learn more about who I am, allow myself some breathing room, make mistakes without church disciplinary action and unlock the puzzles within. The hope is that sooner than later, I will be at one with myself while allowing the Atonement to heal me in emotional, mental, physical and spiritual ways I never thought possible. Best case scenario is that I will be rebaptized and receive all the blessings of church membership, the priesthood and the temple in this lifetime. But if not, I am still a good person whom God loves and I will leave this life hopefully with a great understanding of who I am and be happy where I end up in the life to come, despite not receiving those blessings in this life. God is merciful, kind, compassionate, loving, almighty, magnificent and all-knowing. I know He has watched me struggle with my problems within my family, within the world and within myself. The world may not see how far I have come and what I have achieved despite my weaknesses, but God does and I pray that He will continue to have mercy on my soul.

I am not giving up or giving in, but rather stating the obvious, that my fight is far from being over.

I appreciate your prayers, love, support and concern as I continue to battle.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

near death experience

In my last post I wrote about what was happening to me in my life; simply put, my life seems to be on a downward slope. Some things I have control over and others I do not, but I have always been quite the anxious person. As a side note, I feel some people confuse anxiety with impatience. In my opinion, there is a vast difference between the two, but they share commonalities.

Anxiety is this overwhelming emotional, mental and physical sensation that surrounds much of what I feel I cannot control. It is about everything boiling simultaneously and creating this pressure that will inevitably explode, that I seemingly have absolutely no control over. I can not breathe properly, focus my attention, think clearly or make wise decisions when anxiety strikes. I am not saying that anxiety cannot be controlled, but rather that it seems to strike at random, on its own terms and is usually the result of deep-seeded, underlying issues that have little to do with the struggle at hand.

Patience, or the lack of it, seems to be about outward, day-to-day choices; being impatient, for me, is a fleeting moment and goes away in a short amount of time. I find that my patience level is related to my level of responsibility and accountability. If I am waiting behind a disabled senior citizen who is taking forever, I can choose any number of choices that each come with their own consequence. It is not the only time this has ever happened to me and usually the real issue is that I did not plan my time out properly to include possible situations like ones that would drive me up a wall.. Usually I just get annoyed, see if I can assist them in anyway or just tune the whole situation out, but in the end, the way I react has more to do with my choices. Procrastination leads me into darkness and opens the gate to impatience, which can only be followed by a lack of self-worth and anxiety. I used to have a sign on my door that read, Procrastination is a Dirty Word; I have this to be the truth.

The following is not something I really want to talk about, but I think it is something I need to talk about to help myself and possibly someone else.

Throughout my life I have entertained thoughts of suicide or physical harm to myself, but I have never taken it so seriously to even remotely get close to doing anything of that nature. This is not to say I have not turned to alcohol, sexual promiscuity, impulse shopping or any other number of outlets to get me through the moment. I have also turned to healthier outlets that include walking, running, massage, bubble baths, playing the piano, phoning a friend or writing in my journal. Today I am writing on my blog in an effort to get through the moment.

Last week I ran out of my anti-anxiety medication and could not get a refill from my doctor for a week. My HIV medication includes side effects like nightmares, vivid dreams, hallucinations and suicidal thoughts. Without my anti-anxiety medication in place, my emotional and mental state can go down the drain really fast. This last week without my medication has been a living hell for both me and my dear friend and roommate who has had to step in an protect me from myself.

On several occasions in the last week I pondered harming and/or killing myself to stop the pain of anxiety that had taken over. I do not know what actually stopped me each attempt, but I thank God I never went through with it and I thank my best friend for being there for me each time I threatened my life. At one of my lowest moments my sister answered my 2 am phone call; however; if you see me around anytime soon, you will notice I have no hair due to my final attempt to end my life later that morning. Thankfully, I got to the doctor yesterday and am back on medication to help me remain stable. I can only imagine how much pain one feels that actually goes through with a suicide; my heart and soul goes out to them because I have touched upon that moment of hopelessness and despair.

Recently, in the news, I have read and heard about the several suicides by teens and college students in response to bullying. The media and celebrities have made anti-bullying a buzz topic again, but they have failed to address the importance of mental health issues. Many of these people may have endured any range of anxiety and depression; yes, bullying is horrible and certainly adds to the problem, but let us remember to look at the whole picture.

I read this article recently addressing this topic about the way the media has addressed bullying-related suicides:

"By putting forth bullying as a "cause" of suicide and ignoring underlying mental-health issues that are present in 90 percent of people who die by suicide, the national media may be "normalizing" suicide as a rational response to bullying. For (people) already at risk, this could be a dangerous message."

On this note I am hoping to reach out to those effected by various mental health issues as I am. Suicide or physical harm to oneself or another is not a valid answer, even though in certain states of mind, it may feel that way. During this recent General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, several speakers addressed the topic of Satan's plan to make us, "miserable like unto himself."

"Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man. And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself...I would that ye should look to the great Mediator, and hearken unto his great commandments; and be faithful unto his words, and choose eternal life, according to the will of his Holy Spirit; and not choose eternal death, according to the will of the flesh and the evil which is therein, which giveth the spirit of the devil power to captivate, to bring you down to hell, that he may reign over you in his own kingdom."
2 Nephi 2:27-29 

Our great Mediator has made it possible for all of us to make choices and live according to the results of those choices. However; we can not always control our environments, other people's choices and unforeseeable events that cause problems. Still, the Lord provides several outlets to deal will our problems and unfortunately, so does Satan. We have have to do our best to choose what is right for ourselves.

When it comes to mental health issues: feelings of deep sadness, depression, anxiety, hopelessness and despair, we have to find ways, whether though medication, therapy, friendship, prayer, meditation or other outlets, to deal with life. It is not easy and often there seems like there is no way out; it can be a sickening, gut-wrenching feeling. I have been there, friends have been there, members of my family have been there. I am encouraged to know that I am not alone in this life. Maybe not everyone has someone who lives with them, loves them or cares about them, but we are not alone for a reason. Once I sought relief from my problems and anguish with a stranger on the train and it made all the difference. Just telling someone else that I was hurting and was in need helped.

There are so many ways to get help and find ways to eventually overcome fears, doubts and bad days because Christ made it possible to overcome death, both spiritually and physically, which includes our mental and emotional lives. Nothing so important as our lives and mental health ever changes overnight so I know I have to find ways to take simple steps; ones I know I can take.

My hope is that anyone reading this or otherwise will never feel so alone, hopeless or in despair enough to do which can not be undone. I humbly seek to be non-judgmental of those who have gone through and acted upon these awful thoughts of suicide, how can I judge when I do not know all things. I do not know what becomes of that person, but I hope and pray that they will one day find the grace and peace of God's love and almighty hands. I reach out my hands and love to those struggling with these thoughts of loneliness, hopelessness and despair and pray that you will find ways to find peace and love through healthy outlets and people who can help in your moments of need and pain. I acknowledge that it was only through the love of God, family and friends that I am here today. I have the opportunity to still to do what I can with what I have. Please pray for those who struggle with mental health issues, face demons everyday and/or contemplate physical harm or suicide. Let us all shine a light on the darkness of hidden, underlying issues that many people deal with in their lives. Every life deserves hope including yours!

You have been caught Jey Walking!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

what's happening to me?

My health seems to have turned around, not for the better.

I was undetectable and healthy for a year and now I am back to being detectable with lowered T-Cells and an ongoing thyroid problem.

This seems to be the least of my worries, though I have had to change my HIV medication from the Viramune + Truvada cocktail to Atripla. Mentally, I have not had much control over my moods, emotions and ability to focus. This is a serious issue for a graduate student. I may be losing my job at school and pretty much having to drop out of my program or slow it down to a near halt.

My heart is halfway full of sadness and loneliness; my way of life is exhausting me. I find it so hard to live consistently within any borders or lines like those of the gospel plan or norms of society. I feel tossed and turned with every strong breeze or storm that comes my way. God's promise to those who don't root themselves in their covenants to Him that supplies protection and continual support is that they may find themselves lost and alone.

Have you ever lost something but everything kept telling you in your mind that you knew where it was? I refuse to calm down and ponder where my lost item is, but instead rummage through everything trying to find it, which usually results in rage, frustration and emotional breakdown.

I swear I know where my testimony of the gospel and my Savior Jesus Christ is, but I am having a hard time finding where I left it. I swear I know where I left my solid relationships of support, love and family, but I am having a hard time finding it. I swear I know where I left my soul, my heart and my spiritual hunger and thirst, but for some reason I am having trouble finding it.

I hear people talk about prayer, scripture studying and pondering and other wonderful things, but for me, it seems like there are always a few steps that come before I resolve to do those things. It's obvious, right? Faith. Hope. Charity. Humility. Repentance. Forgiveness. I am taking a guess that these steps aren't a one time deal.

My professor, incidentally my adviser and boss, is suggesting that I drop his course because I lack focus and am way behind. He told me that it is not that the material is intellectually over my head because I am pretty smart, but that it may be the load of work I have to do that is causing me problems and anxiety. This is very similar to my relationship to the gospel and this course called mortality that I am taking. Intellectually I know the material, I understand the concepts and overall I could probably write a book about all I think I know about it, but what I lack is the ability to do the work.

I am filled with fear of failure and disappointment; the anxiety becomes a bigger monster than the work itself. The problem I face is unlike the class at school which I can drop or take over again, what am I supposed to do about this life? I can't just drop it and take it over again, can I? Nope. So, inevitably I am filled with anxiety and extreme pressure to achieve what seems nearly impossible in a fixed amount of time.

My professor said another thing about the course work: he didn't expect me to do it alone; he doesn't expect anyone to do it alone because it's tough. Likewise, I truly feel that God doesn't expect that we go through this life alone. The work is tough, so He sent His Son Jesus Christ to help out. Jesus can only do so much; you can only lead a horse to water, right? Right now I am going back and forth on whether I want that water or not, but the truth is if I don't decide soon, I could die of thirst. That would be sad and quite a waste.

I know this has come out as a ramble rant, but I needed it; I'm scared.

You have been caught Jey Walking!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

what? a new blog? yeah!

Be on the look out for my new blog "My Long Walk Down A Short Road" that will focus on my life from childhood to late-twenties. I hope this will shed more light on who I am by allowing readers to see where I have come from and what I have been through. Please support my effort to delve into my past life and explore how I became who I am today. If possible, it may also help others relate to my experiences and feel inspired or comforted that we are not alone in this earthly experience. What happens in this life is not always enjoyable, but as I have found, it can serve to develop one's character for the better.

"Jey Walking" will remain my present-day blog, so you can continue following me here too. Thanks for everything my little Jey Walkers.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


The popular idiom says home is where the heart is, but what if you're heart is broken?

Then, where and what is home?

I come from a broken family and a broken existence. I have no roots. I often feel lost, alone and like an aimless wanderer wrapped up in my dreams that are without direction or focus.

I want to know what home feels like. My home was never consistent or like any others I have ever interacted with. When I was a child, my parents were just as immature and childish as I was. They were selfish, needy and destructive; not the role models an impressionable mind needs.

My older siblings were expected to take charge and take care of the younger siblings; however, they were inconsistent because they weren't equipped with the knowledge, wisdom and maturity it takes to be a parent, but I give them great credit, because they did their best and saved my life. This is not home.

I have always been pretty close to most of my siblings, but I grew up feeling very disconnected and separate from my family; very independent. I even felt like I was constantly competing with those siblings I lived with for love and affection from other family members. Is this a normal part of growing up or did I have special needs or problems?

I am actually very grateful to be able to travel and see my family more often and communicate with them through texts, chats and facebook. But, this does not feel like home.

As an adult I have experienced relationships and friendships of all kinds that have been emotional and intimate on many levels. I have counted many of my closest friends as my brothers and sisters because of our emotional bonds we share. This still is not home.

Whether I am in San Diego, Atlanta, Washington, DC or New York City, I feel homeless. Whether I am with my parents, siblings or close friends, I still feel alone. Whether I feel God's love around me and know of His love for me, it is difficult for me to envision where I fit in his home, if at all.

I feel like I have made a cardboard cut out home for myself made up of positive memories, overwhelming emotions, HIV, the loss of my grandmother who was one of my best friends and my personal dreams. I relate this home to the house that was built upon the sand.

"And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it." Matthew 7: 27

I am not sure that my house full of random feelings and experiences will carry me into the kingdom of God, much less, get me through the rest of this life. I can only hope that as I grow in wisdom, I will make necessary repairs to my home and prepare it for the storms that come, so that I will endure them with faith and strength.

I know this life is a test. My test may include being alone and lost for a little while. This is not a trivial life or existence.

“We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.”
Teilhard de Chardin

I am not meaning to sound ungrateful to my God and Savior, friends and family who pray for me and love me unceasingly, but I am afraid I will die without a sense of home; a sense of warmth, family and unity. Even my cat, Porter, welcomes me home with a hug and affection, but as much love as I feel from him, it will never repair the damage of the past; only the Atonement of Jesus Christ can perform such a miracle and that is a lifelong process.

Last Sunday afternoon I watched for the first time, The Wiz. Now, I've heard Michael Jackson sing the song from The Wiz titled Home, but I never paid attention to the lyrics or context of the song; I didn't know it was from The Wiz. My heart was touched magically as I heard Dorothy (Diana Ross) sing Home as she desired desperately to be with her loved ones and most importantly with herself; once she came into her own, knowing and loving herself.

Here are the lyrics:

by Charlie Smalls, from The Wiz

Think of home

When I think of home
I think of a place where there's love overflowing
I wish I was home
I wish I was back there with the things I been knowing

Wind that makes the tall trees bend into leaning
Suddenly the snowflakes that fall have a meaning
Sprinklin' the scene, makes it all clean

Maybe there's a chance for me to go back there
Now that I have some direction
It would sure be nice to be back home
Where there's love and affection
And just maybe I can convince time to slow up
Giving me enough time in my life to grow up
Time be my friend, let me start again

Suddenly my world has changed it's face
But I still know where I'm going
I have had my mind spun around in space
And yet I've watched it growing

If you're list'ning God
Please don't make it hard to know
If we should believe in the things that we see
Tell us, should we run away
Should we try and stay
Or would it be better just to let things be?

Living here, in this brand new world
Might be a fantasy
But it taught me to love
So it's real, real to me

And I've learned
That we must look inside our hearts
To find a world full of love
Like yours
Like me

Like home...

I have come to know that home truly lies within my heart and I must allow pieces of my heart to stay with those I love. Then, home will be where my heart is.

“Someday, after mastering the winds, the waves, the tides and gravity, we shall harness for God the energies of love, and then, for a second time in the history of the world, man will have discovered fire.” Teilhard de Chardin

You have been caught Jey Walking!

Here's Kristin Chenoweth's GLEE version of Home:

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

the pageant, the philosopher, the dream and the cat

July started with a bang and ended on a great note - what a wonderful thing. Aside from my birthday and my awesome spiritual experience, the month was filled with some interesting events.

July 16-18, I went up with a friend to Rochester, NY to go to Palmyra, the Joseph Smith Home/Farm, the Sacred Grove and the Hill Cumorah Pageant. I have never done any of these things before. We got into Rochester late Friday night and within a few minutes realized that something was going on in town because it was packed...turns out by sheer coincidence that it was Rochester Gay Pride Weekend. What an odd contrast to my weekend's focus and plan. Inevitably, I decided to enjoy the local festivities and support my gays in Rochester. It was fun, but somewhat worthless.

I felt weird going to Palmyra afterward, but we did anyway. I remember spotting the first protester's sign when we arrived to the Book of Mormon printing press. I had never really seen any in person protest of the Church. Unfortunately, it seems being anti-Mormon defines some people and it's all they do with their time and energy. However; as we moved on to the Smith home/farm where there were no protesters I began to feel a bit better, though the vans and busloads of tourists didn't help my anxiety - that's what happens during pageant time. Frankly, I couldn't feel the spirit until I entered the Sacred Grove - everything else was just not that touching to me in person.

I can remember vividly my journey into the Sacred Grove; each step into the forest dimmed the noise of passing cars, crying babies and conversations. I enjoyed what seemed like a few hours in this very special and sacred place. I can't imagine anyone coming here and not feeling something beautiful or magical. There is a presence there that is warm, loving, gentle and soothing to the heart and soul. I know that Joseph Smith entered this place and prayed for an answer and he did indeed see God, Our Heavenly Father and our Savior and Brother Jesus Christ. Joseph Smith received an answer that led to the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and His Church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, wherein the real authority to act in Christ's name upon the Earth lies in His chosen servants and ordained prophets. I could not and will not deny the testimony I have of that truth. It was very difficult to leave that place, but hopefully what I felt there will remain carried in my heart.

Afterward, we headed to the Hill Cumorah and again we were met with the hissing sounds of anti-Mormon sentiments. I have never heard some the things people were saying and neither did I choose to ponder questions they were posing; their ideologies and message are founded in hate, fear and lies and one can feel the darkness they are trying spread. However; as you walk towards the hill, beautiful music pours out of the speakers and within seconds you no longer hear the vipers hissing from afar. Instead, you are met with genuine smiles, a feeling of love and a true sense of arriving home; what a stark and beautiful contrast. The cast members were so lovely and welcoming - the people in attendance were so polite and kind. It almost felt like what I imagine gathering together for the Second Coming of Christ would be like. I stared into a sea of strange, but familiar faces; I saw people embracing - long lost friends, family members, missionary companions - it was just a wonderful feeling and a sight to behold. The show was awesome and I am so glad I experienced it. It re-lit my fire and passion for The Book of Mormon and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I know the Atonement is real because of my previous scripture study and prayers. The voices I hear when I read the scriptures cry to me that it's true; it's real - the spirit testifies that I am not imagining it or that it is all a made-up concoction or dream of a man, but that it is the voice of God and Jesus Christ through their chosen prophets. It turned out to be one amazing weekend, even if I did, at first, veer off the path.

It's hard to top that, but on July 25th, I got to play a piano medley - pioneer tribute for sacrament meeting. The arrangement is named, "Leaving Nauvoo" and includes hymns/songs, Praise To The Man, Come, Come Ye Saints, Consider The Lilies and Come, Thou Fount of Ev'ry Blessing. It went very well and I felt it was a proper tribute to our pioneer heritage. The story unfolds right after the Prophet Joseph Smith is murdered and the Saints must leave Nauvoo. The beginning starts off as a funeral procession or requiem type mood. It moves on to a dramatic and somber march. As the Saints travel, experience hardships and are tested on every level they remember to, "consider the lilies of the field, how they grow, they toil not." (D&C 84:82-84) Knowing that God is with them and that His angels shall buoy them up through the storms, they press on. As they arrive to the Utah Valley they feel justified and seek to have their God forever engraved upon their hearts, thus, Come, Thou Fount of Ev'ry Blessing. Sorry to those who weren't there to experience this in person, but maybe the back-story alone helps.

Later in the week I came across an old Jewish businessman who was quite the self-proclaimed philosopher of sorts. I was there to pick up envelopes from his store, but instead received quite an earful of his ideas and philosophies. I don't think these things happen just because; in fact I think the message he gave to me is pretty powerful and intentional. He asked me if I had woken up yet. Obviously, he did not mean it in a physical sense, but rather in a spiritual/metaphysical/philosophical sense. I told him I wasn't sure to which he replied, "Then you haven't woken up." He went on and on and on about my lazy generation and the conspiracy regarding America's knowledge of the Holocaust and how the President knew everything but did nothing. I was like a deer in headlights, but this interactions left me thinking, have I woken up? I think this was a message or a hint from God and I appreciate it. I think it's time to, "Awake, my [son]; put on the armor of righteousness. Shake off the chains with which ye are bound, and come forth out of obscurity, and arise from the dust." (2 Nephi 1:23)

So, it's funny that after this encounter I went later that week to go see Inception, a movie about dreams, waking up and reality. I absolutely love this movie because it makes me think and dig deep into my thoughts and dreams. I went to see it for the second time last night with my friends...or was it just a dream? Afterward, my friend said to me that there is a Buddhist belief that says this life is meant for us to master our dreams because our dreams are connected to our souls. When we die and lose our current bodies, we must be able to control our soul through our dreams. If we are lost in our dreams, our soul will be lost, but if we are focused in our dreams and have complete control, we can control our soul and will not be lost. This struck me as being quite profound. Is this not truth? We are told in the scriptures to be careful with our thoughts and to master our minds and bodies. "But this much I can tell you, that if ye do not watch yourselves, and your thoughts, and your words, and your deeds, and observe the commandments of God, and continue in the faith of what ye have heard concerning the coming of our Lord, even unto the end of your lives, ye must perish. And now, O man, remember, and perish not." (Mosiah 4:30)"...let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God." (D&C 121:45) Anyway, I love thinking upon such matters of the soul.

And now for the mane event...kidding. After church last week I visited PetCo because they have their pet adoptions there on Sundays and I like to look at the animals and pet them; this is actually quite dangerous because it's hard to walk away without wanting to take some of them with you. Well, this proved to be the case as now I have adopted a three year old gray and white tuxedo cat who I named Porter after Cole Porter the American composer and musician. Porter is so sweet and really is a blessing to my life. He loves to lay on my piano which is so fitting for his name. He is a real chill cat that just loves to be pet, massaged, brushed, held and fed. I haven't had a cat since 1999 or a pet since 2008, so this is real exciting for me.

Ok, well that's the update. Hope you enjoyed the stories. See you next time.

You have been caught Jey Walking!

Monday, July 12, 2010

medical update...been awhile

After one year of being undetectable, I am no longer undetectable. I am at 78 viral load which is still pretty good but my T-cells have dropped down to 500. I am also having a thyroid problem which is not helping. At any rate, I feel great and my doctor says this is probably a normal fluctuation, so please no worries...prayers yes, worries no. Love ya all! Jey

Monday, July 5, 2010

let freedom ring!

This has maybe been the craziest birthday ever in my life; I just turned 31! As always I looked for a way to make it a blast for me and a few friends. This year I decided to debut my alter ego, Savannah Gorgeous. I thought by doing something outrageously crazy, I would have an awesome birthday. I did have a blast, as did my friends in attendance, but it wasn't everything I was looking for; there was something missing.

The next night on my actual birthday, a friend and I had an delicious dinner at Emporium Brazil and then went to see "La Cage Aux Folles" on Broadway. If you don't know, this play/musical was what the American movie, The Birdcage, was based on. The show was extremely awesome. I was in tears when I heard, "I Am What I Am" and "The Best of Times is Now" live for the first time. I got to meet the cast afterward and get autographs, including an autograph and photograph with the infamous Kelsey Grammar. I thought that this would be the best part of my birthday; it was exciting but there was still something missing.

We went to down to Billy's Bakery in Chelsea for dessert after the show and to my surprise was given a huge chocolate cake with vanilla buttercream frosting for free. I still have some left, so if you want some, let me know. I took the cake to a bar and shared it with some new friends over some drinks. Later, we went dancing until nearly 5am. I had an amazing time, but there was something missing and I couldn't quite tell what it was.

The next day was a lazy Saturday of sleeping in and some light cleaning. It wasn't until later that night when I went to my room to relax and sat by my piano and played a few hymns. A feeling of 'ahhhhhh' came over me; it was so nice to play the piano and hear the beautiful hymns being played. The last hymn I played before retiring to bed was, "Rise Up, O Men of God." Something touched my heart when I read the words and sang them to myself, along with my piano.

"Rise up, O men of God!
Have done with lesser things.
Give heart and soul and mind and strength
To serve the King of Kings.

Rise up, O men of God,
In one united throng.
Bring in the day of brotherhood
And end the night of wrong.

Rise up, O men of God!
Tread where his feet have trod.
As brothers of the Son of Man,
Rise up, O men of God!"

Hymn #324

I slept that night with a feeling a peace that had come over me. When I awoke on the beautiful Fourth of July sabbath morning, I was excited to put on my red, white and blue outfit and sing patriotic hymns as loudly as I could at church. I was even on time to our nine o'clock meeting time. I was giddy when I walked in and heard "The Star-Spangled Banner" being played as prelude. I picked up the program and to my dismay we were not planning to sing any patriotic hymns. I was shocked, but I stayed calm; most likely the person in charge forgot it was the Fourth of July and the Bishopric would make the changes needed. Nope.

We started our meeting singing "I Believe in Christ;" I have to admit that the hymn always gets to me and touches me spiritually. We went right into the sacrament by singing, "While of These Emblems We Partake." By this point in the meeting I could barely sing the words, especially the fourth verse.

"But rise triumphant from the tomb,
And in eternal splendor bloom,
Freed from the pow'r of death and pain,
With Christ, the Lord, to rule and reign."

Hymn #174

As always, I just looked on as others take the sacrament and for some reason I took a huge gulp as it passed by. I had this feeling like I was thirsty and hungry and it wasn't because I was fasting; it was a spiritual feeling that came over me. I tried to ignore it and let it go but it remained.

The bishop's counselor (who was incidentally alone on the stand) began the testimony meeting. His 15 month old son had been recently diagnosed with diabetes and it has troubled their family. It was heartbreaking to see a father break down in tears talking about the love he has for his son. He testified of this life only being temporary and that we will rise again without diseases or ailments because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Though there was only a few in attendance, many others went up and testified; not of our country or anything patriotic, which I assumed would be the case, but of something more grand and glorious; the Atonement and the love of God.

What happened at the end of the meeting is what has left me in quite a state of shock. After five long years of excommunication that has been devoid of bearing testimonies over the pulpit, the spirit told me to stand up and testify and I did.

It was one of those moments where I can't remember quite what I said. I admitted that I had been excommunicated and was living with HIV. I talked about how I felt like a castaway on 'LOST' that was wondering around, unaware of my true state of being. I talked about the thing which was missing in my life: FREEDOM. It was my perfect spiritual independence day, to which I exclaimed, let freedom ring!

The moment that overcame me the most is when I said that I could either live life like I was dying or live life like I was living. I could see myself as dead in the grave or I can see myself resurrected with my Father in Heaven. I have to say after a lot of searching, I believe I found what I am looking for; it lies within the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The gospel of Jesus Christ saves people like me and everyone everywhere from spiritual prison and death. It gives me freedom and that's what I am looking for. My hope now is that I will have the courage to follow Him into the waters of re-baptism, keep His commandments and do His will; serving Him and not my selfish desires.

The meeting ended in a somber way as we sang "I Know My Father Lives." The spirit of the hymn and the quiet expression of faith and devotion could be felt all around the chapel. It was one of those times I am glad to say I was there. It wasn't a wild drag show, a lovely dinner, a riotous Broadway production, free cakes, drinking and dancing all night long. It wasn't a meeting filled with patriotic pomp and circumstance, it was an hour or so of meditation, peace, faith and the pure love of Christ; a moment of spiritual freedom I desperately needed.

I want to express my gratitude for my friends and family who have always treated me with respect and love. Those who have never stopped thinking of me and praying for me. I am so grateful for the plan of peace and happiness that allows me to be free and to feel the love of God in my life continually.

"And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose...Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

Romans 8:28, 35-39

I love you my friends!

You have been caught Jey Walking!

Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir

There is a wall that has been standing since the day that Adam fell
Sin is where it started and sin is why it held
Speakin’ as a prisoner who was there and lived to tell
I remember how it fell

I can hear the sound of freedom like a distant voice who called
And beckon me to follow where I had never gone
And though my heart is willin’, I just stood there at the wall
Prayin’ somehow it would fall

But in a cross I found a doorway and a hand that held a key
And when the chains fell at my feet, for the first time I could see

This is how it feels to be free
This is what it means to know that I am forgiven
This is how it feels to be free
To see that life can be more that I imagined
This is how it feels to be free
This is how it feels to be free, yeah

There are days when I’m reminded of the prison I was in
Like a livin’ nightmare burning deep within
I can feel the voice of evil, I can hear the call of sin
But I won’t go back again

See, once I’ve tasted freedom then the chains could bind no more
Since mercy gave me wings to fly like an eagle I can soar

This is how it feels to be free
This is what it means to know that I am forgiven
This is how it feels to be free
To see that life can be more that I imagined
This is how it feels to be free
This is how it feels to be free, yeah

Somewhere there’s a prison where the chains still burn
If not for the grace of God those walls could still be mine
So far all the captives are saved

This is how it feels to be free
This is what it means to know that I am forgiven
This is how it feels to be free
To see that life can be more that I imagined
This is how it feels to be free

This is how it feels to be free
This is what it means to know that I am forgiven
This is how it feels to be free
To see that life can be more that I imagined
This is how it feels to be free
This is how it feels to be free, yeah
This is how it feels to be free

Friday, June 4, 2010

jey walking

So many random thoughts converge at once in my mind and somehow I have to separate them and interpret their meaning.

I was looking at a few take-out menus for lunch ideas which led me to playing with the magnet that holds them up on my board. After awhile I put the magnet back up and my eye caught the attention of a quote I placed on my board back in January.

"Faith is taking the first step, even when you don't see the whole staircase."

~Martin Luther King Jr.

I started writing a post this morning about the topic of underpromising and overdelivering, but deleted it. After seeing this quote hours later, I realize what my topic for today really is...where is Jey walking to?

This blog is supposed to be about my life, adventures, enlightenment, inspiration, memories and most of all, my path or journey though this life. That's why I chose the name Jey Walking. Jaywalking (Jeywalking) is first, an offense in which a person illegally (or legally) crosses the road. And secondly, it represents me; Jey, walking or traveling through life, learning lessons and sharing them with you. It may be true that, in this life, I have illegally crossed the road while on this journey.

I've reached a point in my life where I no longer no where I am going. I thought I always knew. From an early age, I could tell you my plans for the future, whether it was to be the President of the United States, a judge, an artist/designer, a veterinarian or Broadway headliner/superstar. I went to school to study Advertising and thought that would be what I would do with my life. Then I graduated and went straight into graduate school for a degree almost unrelated to the first, Nonprofit Management. Now I am approaching graduation next May and I am wondering where I will go next.

I can admit freely that I am lost. I don't know whether to retrace my steps, hug a tree or start a fire that spells HELP or SOS.

Everyday I wake up and wonder what I will not accomplish, even though I have good intentions to complete necessary tasks and assignments. This is also indicated by my bedroom that never ceases to be messy, even after I clean it. I've always felt that the cleanliness or organization of one's living situation reflects the cleanliness or organization of one's mind. If my room is a mess, maybe I am, too.

So the whole point of this ramble is that I don't want to be like this anymore, but everytime I try to get out the mess, it seems to creep back in. How can I trust that it won't occur everytime I try to make my life work?

The answer is the quote above.

Recently, a friend of mine told me that I am a very determined person who gets caught up or distracted by other things I become determined about. She told me that I am so powerful and determined that if I were to just focus on the one thing it would happen because that's how determined a person I am.

I thought about what she had said and pondered about my life and the choices I make. The mess in my life comes from not staying focused on one singular goal or idea or task, but several at the same time. That causes more mess.

I think, I will need to make a list of all my interests, goals, dreams or ideas and prioritize them. For instance, getting my degree is more important right now than thinking about where I am going to live after I graduate. There are plenty of other examples that are a little more private to me. I laugh to myself when I say that because what is private anymore these days? See, I was just about to go off topic, but I stopped myself.

I want Jey to know where he is walking towards. Right now it's like I am walking backwards because I worry so much about what will or might happen next or down the road, rather than what is happening now, in the present.

Faith is taking a step into the unknown, but it doesn't mean one can't have a plan. The problem is people like me think we can control the way things work and happen and our plans are based on that presumed fact. Plans should be based on our needs and good desires and include what God would have us do. After all, who is the Master that knows all, oversees everything and does so with order and wisdom? Yes, He is.

I know that for my life to truly become less messy and more clean I must seek guidance from God and become more like Him, the god of order, truth and light. It will require faith in every foot step along the remainder of this journey here and beyond.

My hope is that Jey will be Walking in the right direction soon. Your prayers are welcomed here.

You have been caught Jey Walking!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

jesus, savior

I decided after watching Greyson Michael Chance show his skills on YouTube that I should start sharing mine as well.

Here is my first home video performance. It's not my best, but it's a start. The medley is titled Jesus, Savior and includes four hymns:

Jesus, Once of Humble Birth
In Humility Our Savior
There is a Green Hill Far Away
O Savior Thou Who Wearest a Crown

I hope you like it - there's hopefully more to come.

You have been caught Jey Walking!

Monday, May 3, 2010

my soul's sincere desire

Let me begin by saying I have been avoiding this post; it will be difficult to write this without expressing a few tears; both of sadness and joy.

About three months ago I asked my roommate what his favorite hymn was. I like to arrange medleys for the piano and I needed a fresh idea; after all there are only so many hymns. After a long moment of thought, he told me his favorite hymn was Secret Prayer; it's on my top 100. Quickly I ran through the hymnbook and thought of songs that would capture the essence of the power of prayer and communal with God, our Father. I had know idea what I was about to get myself into.

I am a storyteller; so I like to study lyrics and really feel the power of the melody of the song I am playing. Then I rip it apart and try to make it more emotional and dramatic to remove the "hymn" sound and add what I call the movie soundtrack moment. When I play the piano, no one sings, so I need to pull in the emotion of the words into the music itself. The process that I use is a gift from God because I don't read music, I just hear emotions and melody combined and play it on the piano. It's hardy ever perfect; but then it can't be, that's not the purpose, it's supposed to be raw and unrefined.

Anyway, so the story with Secret Prayer is about someone who may not be the most faithful person, but is struggling constantly to keep God on his/her mind. Each day this person finds a moment to ponder life and his/her relationships to God, family, friends and neighbors. Even though the song says that this person kneels in secret prayer, the truth is that the person rarely finds or takes a moment to do so, but takes the time to reflect, ponder and prayer in his/her mind, heart and soul; little prayers of hope, encouragement, safety, comfort, joy and peace.

I found a way to play Secret Prayer with a little bit more intensity that would draw out the moments that this person is reflecting or pondering and how powerful that is for them in that moment. After I found a suitable version, I added the hymn O My Father to symbolize the actual words the person is thinking or praying to themselves. I have always loved the last verse I suppose because I often utter them in my prayers.

"When I leave this frail existence, when I lay this mortal by,
Father, Mother, may I meet you, in your royal courts on high?
Then, at length, when I've completed all you sent me forth to do,
With your mutual approbation, let me come and dwell with you."

When they are finished with their thoughts, they still feel fear and doubt about any possible resolution to their pain and grief or troubles and so next, I added Where Can I Turn For Peace. The entire hymn really captures both the pain the person is feeling with the fear and doubt on their shoulders and the realization that God will see them through.

"Where can I turn for peace?
Where is my solace
When other sources cease to make me whole?
When, with a wounded heart, anger, or malice
I draw myself apart searching my soul?

Where, when my aching grows?
Where, when I languish?
Where, in my need to know?
Where can I run?
Where is the quiet hand to calm my anguish?
Who, who can understand?
He, only One.

He answers privately.
Reaches my reaching.
In my Gethsemane, Savior, and friend.
Gentle, the peace He finds
For my beseeching.
Constant He is, and kind.
Love without end."

At the end of this hymn the person realize that they are in God's hand and He will guide and comfort then through this journey of life. They don't want the spirit to leave and certainly the feeling of grace and peace, so I added a medley of Abide with Me and Abide with Me 'Tis Eventide as the end of the entire medley. My favorite verse of Abide With Me really illustrates the pleading with the spirit and the Lord to stay nearby.

"I need thy presence ev'ry passing hour.
What but thy grace can foil the tempter's pow'r?
Who, like thyself, my guide and stay can be?
Thru cloud and sunshine, Lord, abide with me!"

I practiced and practiced to make it all sound sincere, dramatic, thought-provoking and raw. I found myself playing the medley whenever I came home from school or work. Everytime I played the medley I would break down and cry. Sometimes it was from an overwhelming feeling of comfort and peace from the spirit and other times it was from deep sorrow and sadness. This medley has become my personal song.

One Sunday afternoon I came home after church and started playing this medley, suddenly my eyes glanced at the other page of the simplified accompaniments hymnbook and saw a verse of another hymn that struck me deep within my heart. I was caught up with emotion and cried my eyes out.

"Prayer is the contrite sinner's voice, returning from his ways,
While angels in their songs rejoice, and cry, "Behold he prays!"

I looked at other verses:

"Prayer is the soul's sincere desire, uttered or unexpressed,
The motion of hidden fire, that trembles in the breast."

"Prayer is the burden of a sigh, the falling of a tear,
The upward glancing of an eye, when none but God is near."

These verses encapsulate the story I was trying to tell with my medley of hymns. Prayer isn't always about getting on one's knees and bowing our heads. Some of my longest prayers on my knees have been selfish and unnecessary; however, some of my most powerful prayers have been simple thoughts, a verse of a hymn, a scripture, a moment of pondering, among others. We are judged more by what is in our hearts, than by what is uttered from our lips.

Today I sat down to play some music while a storm outside raged on. I started to play part of my medley and it struck me again. This time it was a reminder to write this experience down.

There is a power in music, lyrics, feelings, reflections and ponderings. Never underestimate the power of an unuttered prayer; let your heart pray more than your lips. My soul's sincere desire is to love God and express that love through music and to others around me through service, love and friendship.

"When sailing on life's stormy sea, 'mid billows of despair,
'Tis solace to my soul to know God hears my secret prayer.

When thorns are strewn along my path, and foes my feet ensnare,
My Savior to my aid will come, if sought in secret prayer.

May my heart be turned to pray, pray in secret day by day,
That this boon to mortals giv'n, may unite my soul to heav'n."

You have been caught Jey Walking!

Friday, April 30, 2010

dying to live

These days I find it difficult to unwind, un-do and unplug, but today's ride home I received a gift.

I love music and Jonny Lang. Jonny Lang was introduced to me by my friend Jennifer who has a similar love for music and Jonny Lang.

Today I was listening to my collection of music and out of nowhere I came to this song that, within a few lyrics captured my attention. It may be one of the best sounding songs I've read and listened to in a long time.

Take a looksie:

Dying to Live
written by Edgar Winter, 1971

You know I've heard it said there's beauty in distortion
By some people who withdraw to find their head
And they say there is humor in misfortune
No, I wonder if they'll laugh when I am dead

Why am I fighting to live
If I'm just living to fight
Why am I trying to see
When there ain't nothing in sight
Why am I trying to give
When no one gives me a try
Why am I dying to live
If I'm just living to die

You know some people say that values are subjective
But they're just speaking words
That someone else has said
And so they live and fight and kill with no objective
Sometimes its hard to tell the living from the dead


You know I used to weave
My words into confusion
And so I hope you'll understand me
When I'm through
You know I used to live my life as an illusion
But reality will make my dream come true

So I'll keep fighting to live
Till there's no reason to fight
And I'll keep trying to see
Until the end is in sight
You know I'm trying to give
So come on
Give me a try
You know I'm dying to live
Until I'm ready to die

I don't know how that song hits you, but I know for me, it's priceless. Another magical moment in musical history.

You've been caught Jey Walking!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

wishing you were somehow here again

From a very early age, I fell in love with musical theater. I, among many others, dreamed of a day I would headline a Broadway show. My grandmother who raised me never really seem to believe I had what it took to be a star; so neither did I. I am not blaming her for any of my failed dreams; but rather wishing I could have proved her wrong. She never said I couldn't do it; she rather pointed out my flaws and told me I would have to work harder to be a professional. I took that as a lack of confidence. She loved to hear me sing, most of the time. Her favorite song that I would sing to her was Music of the Night. When I taught myself how to play a medley of Phantom of the Opera songs, she loved that as well. My dream was to be the Phantom and have my grandmother sit in the best seat of the house and watch me sing before a sold out crowd on Broadway. I wanted her to see the applause I would get and the standing ovation. I wanted to be able to hand a bouquet of red roses to her while on stage so everyone could see my mother; the mother of a star. Obviously this dream never really took off.

My grandmother and I were an odd couple; we were more like best friends than relatives. I think that's why it was so hard for her to discipline me into the person she wanted me to be. We had our disputes, we went everywhere together and we even shared secrets amidst laughter and tears. We loved each other. She means everything to me.

When The Phantom of the Opera came out in the movie theater, I had a chance to come home to San Diego and watch it with my grandmother. We were in absolute awe. I had never seen a production of Phantom in my life; I had only listened to Michael Crawford and Sarah Brightman sing it on the original soundtrack, over and over again. It was a magical moment for the both of us.

Two years later after seeing the movie together, my best friend passed away and I can only hope see has continued to watch over me. She took me aside before her death and asked me to sing for her funeral and I agreed. I didn't dare sing Music of the Night at her funeral, but my sister sang an altered version of Think of Me that was another favorite of hers that my sister sang beautifully. I sang a song titled Mama from Il Divo, which was a request of my aunts on behalf of the family. I got a chance to do a show for my grandmother before she died in which I sang Music of the Night and played my piano medley of Phantom music. She was in tears as was I. Thinking back on that day, I realized she was giving me the chance to show her I was a star; I didn't need to be on Broadway to prove it to her.

Now I have been to New York a few times and, of course, now I live here. So anyone would assume that a fanatic like me would have seen Phantom a million times over. It actually wasn't until last Friday that I finally went to see it. Yikes! I think, subconsciously, it felt wrong without my grandmother with me. However, it wasn't long after the music started that I felt her sitting beside me and enjoying the show. Another magical moment my best friend and I got to share.

Since then I have been like Christine, wishing her dead father and best friend were somehow alive again and able to see her grow up and rise to become a star. She begs for him to come back and guide her and to let her hear his voice again. In the end she realizes she has to move on otherwise the pain of not having him there will engulf her.

I miss my dear friend and mother and wish I could just call her like I used to. She would always bear her testimony to me of the gospel and of Jesus Christ. She would always tell me she was praying for me, to which I would always respond, "Well, someone has to." I know I am not the only one who has lost someone near and dear to their soul, but I can't help to express my loneliness and grief that I feel without her tangibly here in my life.

She always told me when I was being a brat that I should be grateful for her because she was my best friend; the only one who knew the real me and still loved me anyway, besides God. She was right and I miss her, but somehow I have to find a way to move on and know that the picture of us together on my piano and the many memories I have of us is sufficient, for now. The frame in which the picture resides reads: Through Thick and Thin.

You have been caught Jey Walking!

"You were once my one companion
you were all that mattered
You were once a friend and [mother]
then my world was shattered

Wishing you were somehow here again
wishing you were somehow near
Sometimes it seemed if I just dreamed,
somehow you would be here

Wishing I could hear your voice again
knowing that I never would
Dreaming of you won't help me to do
all that you dreamed I could

Passing bells and sculpted angels,
cold and monumental,
seem, for you,the wrong companions
you were warm and gentle
Too many years fighting back tears
Why can't the past just die?

Wishing you were somehow here again
knowing we must say goodbye
Try to forgive
teach me to live
give me the strength
to try

No more memories, no more silent tears
No more gazing across the wasted years
Help me say

"Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again"
from Andrew Lloyd Webber's
The Phantom of the Opera

Thursday, February 25, 2010

please stand by

I noticed today that my blog viewership is down six percent. I know I don't write that much anymore; there's a reason.

Things are finally sort of normal in my life; go figure. I mean I am still crazy, that hasn't changed. My life is sort of good and I am settling into somewhat of a routine.

Now I am also feeling like I might be in a rut and that's why life feels somewhat stagnant; however, I haven't really pinpointed any one thing I need to change or do to change that. I wonder if sometimes we're supposed to be in a rut so we can figure our own way out of it as a part of one of our many life lessons.

At any rate, I am here. I am alive and doing well. Yes, I continue to face challenges and obstacles, but I guess I am just trying to deal with them as gracefully as possible.

Stay with me my friends. Please stand

You have been caught Jey Walking!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

i'll stand by you

My recent obsession with "Glee" has brought me to this classic song. When I hear it, I imagine my Savior saying these words to me. I feel comforted by these words and the way they make me feel when I hear them. I truly believe my Savior stands by and really understands what I have gone through, as well as what I am going through. It's safe to say, He most likely knows what I will go through before this life is over. And for that I am grateful. Enjoy.

Oh, why you look so sad?
Tears are in your eyes
Come on and come to me now.
Don't be ashamed to cry,
let me see you through
Cause I've seen the dark side too.
When the night falls on you,
you don't know what to do,
Nothing you confess
could make me love you less
I'll stand by you, I'll stand by you,
won't let nobody hurt you,
I'll stand by you.

So, if you're mad get mad,
don't hold it all inside,
Come on and talk to me now.
And hey, what you got to hide?
I get angry too
But I'm a lot like you.
When you're standing at the crossroads,
don't know which path to choose,
Let me come along,
cause even if your wrong

I'll stand by you, I'll stand by you,
won't let nobody hurt you,
I'll stand by you.

Take me into your darkest hour,
and I'll never desert you.
I'll stand by you.

And when, when the night falls on you [my child],
you're feeling all alone,
You won't be on your own,
I'll stand by you. I'll stand by you
I'll stand by you,
won't let nobody hurt you.
I'll stand by you
Take me in into your darkest hour
and I'll never desert you
I'll stand by you.

Friday, January 15, 2010

this is where i am

I have kept silent for the last month to allow my mind to rest in hopes of gathering more thoughts on which to expound upon.

One thing I did as I came closer to the end of 2009 was to just let it happen. I usually send out a year end post or email that talks about, basically, all of which I have already posted before. It just seemed so redundant of me. So, I ended the year with little or no words at all because it proved to me that the end of the year would occur with or without my traditional post.

One of my thoughts that I gathered in was about who I am. I imagine that if my life is like any character from the great classic, Saturday's Warrior, then I can easily assume that before this life, a long time ago, I stood around waiting for my turn to come to this earthly existence. I may have even plead with my older brother Jimmy to, remember to keep his promise. In fact, I may have even met my one true, eternal companion, despite the fact that I am gay; I can assume any one of the male characters in that movie are too. To be honest I sometimes wish it were all that simple, but it is not.

Here's how life really is, for me. I am attracted to men. I sort of have a fairytale dream that I will get married and have children. I used to believe that I could make a marriage between me and a woman work, but it won't, for me. Some people have told me not to worry because I will have a chance to be married in the next life when I am no longer gay. I question those who believe that when this life is over all gay people will magically no longer be gay. Who am I to question the power of God, but how and why would He change me to become heterosexual? I'm just saying, I am almost stereotypically gay, how is my whole life as a gay person going to change after this life? I am not looking for "answers", I am just asking.

I have also considered the subject of being re-baptized. I have wanted this so badly since I was excommunicated. I no longer understand how being re-baptized will help me if I don't plan of living a celibate life. I would love to have the full blessings of membership, but I am being realistic about my lifestyle. I have struggled the last few years to become a person who is not promiscuous and who values deep and meaningful relationships that are both emotional and physical. I have been open with my Bishop letting him know that if I find a partner to settle down with, there would be no reason for me to attempt re-baptism. I know that even kissing and cuddling with my male partner would be considered grounds for disciplinary actions, contrary to heterosexual relationship standards. My Bishop, however, surprisingly applauds my efforts to find one partner for myself to whom I can devote my emotional and physical love. Now I join the ultimate struggle which is finding Mr. Right.

Aside from these thoughts I have considered other parts of my future. Right now I am in graduate school for a management degree, but am not sure I want to manage anything, but my life. I want to finish the program because I think it's important to finish what you start and to get a degree that shows you can learn new things. Having a master's degree can be a foot into several doors. I have been asked several times what my plans are, but candidly, I am uncertain. I have plenty of ideas and dreams, so I don't think I am afraid of the future per se, but rather worried about whether the choices I make now will lead me in the right direction. I am not alone in this, many people have these same worries or concerns.

As far as the rest of my life goes, I left the frozen tundra of New York City on December 17th to enjoy a wonderful month long visit to San Diego. I was able to see most of my friends and family there. I had a relaxing Christmas Day filled with endless gourmet cuisine fixed by my step-mother and delightful gift giving. My warm New Year's celebration was exciting and lasted the entire weekend, as it should. I did some bargain shopping, ate delicious food, went to the beach several times, got a tan and needless to say, relaxed my tired 30 year old ass!

With 2010 now underway I am facing new challenges, overcoming old ones and gearing up for what I expect to be a fruitful and adventurous year. I may not know what I am supposed to be when I grow up, but I am here and giving nearly my best shot with what I got. I am thankful for my life, my friends, loving family members and always, the good times. Let the good times roll!

You have been caught Jey Walking! (Have a happy and industrious new year!)