The Impact of Sexuality

There we were, tears flowing down our faces and hitting our yoga mats. My best friend and I decided that we would take a late night yoga class. Little to our knowledge, we entered a class that focused on the second chakra--the Sacral center. As we practiced, we met our deepest yearnings for love and released some of the deepest emotions and fears. We learned that sexuality is born in this chakra and how it affects the way we love and live.

Sexuality is so complex. You cannot put it in a box and define it just one way. Think about it, think of all the things that are defined by sexuality: love, gender identity, emotional capacity, clothing choices,lifestyles, etc. These are some integral parts of what makes a person who they are and it can all be defined around one's sexuality.

As some of you know, I have openly talked about my personal identity. I am an openly gay man, but that wasn't always the case. For years, I had wondered what I was and was so unsure until one day it all made sense. My sexuality had been such a point of contention in my life that it had physical affects on my body and psyche. I let others define me through their personal notions of what it looked like and up until I chose to search more deeply is when I found solace.

So here's the story: 

My first year of college, was a huge turning point. I had moved from small-town MN to the metropolis of the state and found myself becoming the person I aspired be. My spirituality is something I don't necessarily talk about, but it is something that is conscious in every part of my life. I believe the people and lessons that come into my life are there for a reason whether I want it or not. So there I was sitting in a college dorm room dreaming about who/what I wanted to be.

After a lot of taxing inward conversations, I consulted an astrologist. (Yes I know what you are thinking. "Is he kidding me?" I thought the same thing until this.) I was introduced to Bruce through a very good family friend. We started the conversation of why I was calling him and he ended up explaining the things that I always doubted (my sexuality, life's path, etc.) He knew that I was keeping something from myself and from the people I love. And he outwardly told me "no one gives a shit about your sexual identity." He told me I had been abusing myself for so long  about this that I was hurting myself physically and emotionally (I put on weight as a way to block love from others and to become invisible.) And in that moment my life changed.

Once I was able to define myself as a gay man, I was able to lose weight, to talk about myself and to love others and myself more. As Merle Miller wrote in On Being Different: What it Means to be a Homosexual,

Gay is good. Gay is proud. Well yes, I suppose. If I had been given a choice (but who is?) I would prefer to have been straight. But then, would I rather not have been me? Oh I think not, not this morning anyway . . . on such a day I would not choose to be anyone else or any place else. (23-24)

With that quote in mind, it takes into every aspect of what sexuality involves. It involves the individual person and what journey you choose to take. Never let anyone demean your feelings or emotions or call you out based on your personal identities. Sexuality plays a huge role in WHO we love, HOW we love, but it doesn't fully define you. YOU define you. And I encourage you, dear friends, to ask yourself deeply--"what is my truth and how and the hell will I talk about it?"

Be inspired. Stay Positive. Love Yourself.

With love and light and all the x's & o's,

Marko

The Impact of Love

I sit here writing, just like Carrie Bradshaw did in the Sex and the City series--about the complexities of love and the impacts it has on a person.

We can all agree love is intoxicating and deep--it gives you the highest of highs and the lowest of lows, it will take you and hug you tightly or totally rip you apart. That is why I am writing about it and I hope you will take the time to see what I have to say and explain the impact love has had on me and from the countless observations I have collected.

Throughout this short time I have been on this earth, I have observed many relationships, platonic and romantic, new and old, young and mature. I have seen them crumble and I have seen them thrive, but the most important thing I take away is that love succeeds with mutual respect and friendship.

One thing that grinds my gears and gets me heated is codependence.  You my dear reader are not a half of anything, you were born whole and will remain whole until the day you die. We will not leave this planet alive and the only person you have, right now, is yourself.  More specifically, to my dear millennial friends, we are far too progressed in this modern society to be relying on someone to give us the love we can't give ourselves. We are too young to be worrying about what our future lives may be like with the partner(s) that may or may not show up.

I will say I have been in love, I know I have been loved, but that all comes with a price. You either give yourself fully and get screwed over or you can't find yourself giving enough love back to the individual who wants you so badly.

Quite honestly, I think love impacts the way you view yourself. If you cannot fully embrace all the messy, interesting, dysfunctional parts of yourself, how the fuck will you be able to give love back to someone else? This goes for both platonic and romantic partners.

One of the greatest pieces I read, after a major heartbreak from someone who didn't mutually love me back, was from one of my all time favorite authors/books: Elizabeth Gilbert's Eat Pray Love. It may be stupidly cliche but here it is:

 - Life's metaphors are [insert higher power of choice or not] instructions.

-You have just climbed up and above the roof. There is nothing between you and the Infinite. Now, let go.

-The day is ending. It's time for something that was beautiful to turn into something else that is beautiful. Now, let go.

-Your wish for resolution was a prayer. You being here is [hp's] response. Let go and watch the starts come out--on the outside and on the inside.

-With all your heart, ask for grace, and let go.

-With all your heart, for give [them], FORGIVE YOURSELF, and let [them] go.

-Let your intention be freedom from useless suffering. Then, let go.

- Watch the heat of the day pass into the cool night. Let go.

-When the karma of a relationship is done, only love remains. It's safe. Let go.

-When the past has passed from you at last, let go. Then climb down and begin the rest of your life. With great joy.

This mantra/prayer taught me to let the intense feelings I have for others and let them go. It let me release them to the universe and gave me hope for a more open and fuller heart.

We go through life wanting so much. At the end of the day, we just want to be with someone who makes our heart smile, who deals with your bullshit and idiosyncrasies, and ultimately a person who will pull us out of the darkness and into the light. (and you to do the same, of course.) In reality, I think need to do this for ourselves and if this behavior intimidates a certain person in your life, he/she/them isn't for you. When you find that love, it will be perfect, it will be impactful and it will cultivate a  wisdom for a new and open heart.

Be inspired. Stay Positive. Love Yourself.

XO,

Marko

Old Soul Problems

My entire life has revolved around my deep sense of "just knowing." I have always felt older and sometimes I have no idea why I can find words for the very things that trouble me in this life. When I was young, I loved family gatherings--only if I could sit with the grown ups and listen. I always found myself having something to say or positioning myself to connect with the adults. So from then on, I have felt like an old person in a young adult's body waiting for the day my mind catches up with my age. Let's just says its been interesting and it serves to be a gift and a curse.

I like to call this "old soul problems."

Here is how it feels most days:

  1. You have a deep intuition of knowing certain things are right and wrong moves in your life. Most of the time you are never surprised with the outcomes.
  2. You are constantly in your head--always having a conversation with yourself about your future or life's mysteries.
  3. People tell you,"you are wise beyond your years" after each conversation.
  4. Immaturity is the bane of your existence, to the point you want to whack the person on the side of the head and yell "shape up!"
  5. Maturity is also the bane of your existence, sometimes you wish you could think about things more superficially.
  6. You can weirdly feel the difference between "souls"--who has been here before and who just got here.
  7. Some friendships are a constant teaching experience, while others feel like you have known and understood each other for centuries.
  8. You don't dramatically react to life's curveballs.
  9. You question authority figures.
  10. Egos are a waste of time and you don't like stroking/creating them.

I'm not here to tell you if you are an "old soul." These are just the many feelings I and fellow "old soul" friends have felt/feel on a daily basis. If you are an "old soul," I understand you and know what you go through.

Cheers to #oldsoulproblems!

Be inspired. Stay Positive. Love yourself.

XO,

Marko

Live Presently.

Today we live in a world where we are wired to dwell in the past or race towards a future that seems so unclear and we often forget about this very moment.  There are many blogs, books, and articles about embracing the present moment and that is just great but I have something to say too, dear reader.  The present moment is the greatest moment in our lives.  It is the point of our existence that we should dwell and learn in.  I am not perfect by any means and I too need to keep it in mind.

Living in the present moment gives you comfort and you finally feel like you have a chance of moving forward and can make some sort of minor or even major change in your life.  Since graduating college, this has been a hard place for me. Every day I am looking for a job, a career, or a greater glimpse of my future and I find myself dwelling in that. I find my mind in a place where it will all be "okay"--when this happens, I can do this; when I get that job, I will buy this. In reality I have everything in the world, I have a roof over my head and I can say, with huge amounts of privilege, I am able to finally take a small break from my life. I am able to practice yoga, write this blog post, and finally focus on some personal goals--because I am right here, right now.  When I am able to find myself in the present moment, I feel ridiculous amounts of gratitude for the life I have created and find myself in complete and utter aw of the people in it. I told a friend the other day, "Dammit, I will live a creative, vibrant life if it kills me." She responded with,  "Then do it, Mark."

The challenge is: Be here, right now.

By living in this moment, I have find freedom from  feelings of disappointment, sadness, and worry. In these present moments, I find peace with myself and with the world around me.  I now challenge you to take in this moment, right now, and find your peace. Find what gives you the truest amounts of joy and go for it. Whether it is at your workplace, riding your bike, sipping coffee, or playing with your children. Find THIS moment, if it doesn't give you joy, I challenge you to find the value in the lesson it is trying to teach you. My dear friends, live this moment--life is way too short.

Be inspired. Stay Positive. Love Yourself.

XO,

Marko

Gay Means What...Love?

Sexuality does not come with a handbook. It is something that everyone is born with and cultivates throughout their lifetime--flowing in and out with the ever-flowing ideas of love.

As a small child, I knew I was different. My mother raised my twin sister and I with infinite love and individuality. She always said, “Be a leader, never a follower” and “I love you more.” Throughout our childhood, my sister and I were the kids who got kisses on the lips and huge hugs full of love—without a question.

Love is a huge part of my life. It is a word I use heavily and mean it every time it leaves my lips. I just didn’t know why it could hurt so badly—that when you love is when trust is lost and souls are beaten down. In my earlier years, my love for this world became so bruised that I questioned my life and every relationship I had ever cultivated.

My roots of deep individuality hurt me; it was something that was instilled in my entire being and something that was challenged daily. As one can imagine, high school is a time of a major metamorphosis in one’s life, a time where we all start to imagine whom we want to be, where all of our hopes and dreams are built. By the time we are done, we leave for college to start completely over. Throughout my adolescence, I was taunted, questioned, and told what my sexuality was. Quite honestly, I didn’t even know. How could I have known if I was never in love with anyone?

By the time I left for college, I definitely knew I was gay. After all of the self-loathing, body shaming, and tears into journal entries, I confronted my deepest fear—my sexuality. It was hard to come to terms with something that others already saw in me, something that I had no control over. I didn’t want to be gay; I just wanted to be “normal”—whatever the fuck that meant.

Leaving a small town in northern Minnesota and heading to the largest metropolitan city in the state was the best decision I ever made. College was a fresh new start and I was going to embrace all life had to offer—including my sexuality and all the hoops and struggles that would bring.

I started college as an open book. I left all of my doubts and insecurities in the car and could finally be me. Little did I know, I had a lot to learn and discover about being a young gay man in the Twin Cities.

College was the first time I was ever told I was attractive—that I had something to offer to this world. I took this like I was dodging a flying golf ball. I thought I wasn’t attractive and I was perfectly content with being single for the rest of my life. Meeting and befriending other young gay men, I found out that I was definitely behind in the dating scene. What the hell are Grindr, Tinder, and OkCupid? To my ignorance, I needed it all.

Later to find out, none of these dating sites really work. They are just another median to objectify yourself and your sexuality. Either it was older men wanting to get in my pants or young men wanting to send me their nudes. I quickly found out this was not my style—thinking, “why the hell can’t I just meet a guy in a coffee shop?”

I also found out that as a member of the LGBTQIA+ community that I needed to be labeled. Was I a twink, a bear, an otter, a chub . . . ?! NO. I realized that I am Marko and I will only be Marko until the day I leave this earth. I, as a gay identifying human being, will never identify with these marginalizing terms in an already historically marginalized group. I came out—wasn’t that enough?

Yes, that was enough. It took me months to be able to realize that. After falling apart, mentally, emotionally, and physically, I knew I was enough. I knew that I could be and do whatever I wanted—that I needed to be a pivotal game changer in this close-minded ideology of sexuality. Yes I may joke about being gay, but I also embrace and fight for it. I also embrace that I am a son, a brother, a male, a college student, a grandson, a friend, a lover. My friends, sexuality is only an aspect in the culture of your identities. It helps us only to define a speck of what matters in this world—“to love and be loved.”

On a side note:

With the recent events happening around the United States,  the question of love and the freedom to love come into the limelight. As a gay man, I can genuinely say I am scared of where our country is at this moment, I am lost to the sense of humanity and equality. BUT I am so impressed by those who are embracing their LGBTQIA+ friends and those who are fighting for our right to love freely. I know that I cannot let acts of terror inhibit my way of life, but when will it be over, when will we all feel safe in a country that is supposedly "free?" My love for this world and my country is strong yet I am puzzled by people and what they believe is the "right way" to live and love. My friends, please, in this time of unsureness, I ask you to have conversations with your LGBTQIA+ friends, we are scared for our community and what may come from the hatred of others.  Sexuality is already a difficult identity to embrace. Let us learn, let us love, and most importantly, let us live.

Be inspired. Stay Positive. Love yourself.

XO,

Marko

 

Let's Body Talk

I think we all can agree on this. We are always constantly comparing ourselves to the newest fitness magazine model or the confident people jogging shirtless down the sidewalk. We seem them--we ultimately want to be them. We think that once we start running, lifting, swimming, etc.-- we can be those people--which we can. My problem with this constant comparison is that it ruins us. It ruins us from embracing our own bodies and torments us as we sit in the mirror hating ourselves.

Why do we do this? 

I believe we do this because our society's constant obsession with the concept:  if we look perfect, our lives will be perfect, therefore, no one can judge. We all have an idea in our heads of what our life is supposed to look like, or in this case, what we are supposed to look like. So we throw ourselves into a never-ending self-shaming cycle--giving up our self-esteems to people who don't matter and torment ourselves into constant mindset of not enoughs.

So here is my story:

From my early teens on, I  always compared myself to people. Whether it was in a gym class or at the beach, in my head, I was never good enough. My body wasn't toned and I never wanted to take off my shirt. I was completely an utterly ashamed of myself. I hated the way I looked and find myself, to this day, comparing myself.

The phrase,"you can forgive people, but you will never forget how they made you feel" is definitely something I think about. I was made to feel this way. From constant reminders from people who were not real friends and random comments from family members, it ruined my self-esteem. So the conclusion of this was "If I'm fat or eat lots--I will never be worthy." In a way this ignited my lifelong passion for holistic health and well being, but quite literally fucked up the view I had for myself. Body shaming must stop. Once one word is said, it will eat that person alive--even if they trick themselves into not thinking about it; it will come back in some horrible form.

At first (7-9 grade), I lost weight in a very unhealthy way, gained it all back and then some. I found myself, a senior in high school, at the heaviest I had ever been. I was full of shame. I hated how I felt about my body and would tell myself every day how horrible I looked. I recently read one of my journals, from this time, and it obsessively talked about my body and how I could get thinner--this was one of the saddest, most depressing things I have ever written. The saddest thing is: no one knew this. No one knew because I always had a smile on my face and tried to speak positively.

Once I came to college in the fall of 2013, I made it my goal to become the "best version of myself." The person who embraced every messy part of himself and was determined to love his mind, BODY, and soul fully. I chose to start telling myself how much I loved the person looking back in the mirror, challenged myself to reinstate a healthy relationship with food, and radiate the beauty that I truly was. There was plenty of downs, but the ups made the journey worthwhile.

Since my first year of college, I have lost 25 pounds. I am the healthiest and fittest I have ever been. Every now and then people ask me how I did it. Along with the dedication to me, myself, and I, the most important thing I can say is that YOU NEED TO UNCONDITIONALLY LOVE YOURSELF. It seems simple, but it's not. I believe once you learn to do this, everything will fall into place--mind, body, soul. In doing this, another piece of wisdom I heard from my favorite yoga instructor, "Would you talk to your neighbors, friends, and family the way you are talking to yourself at this very moment?" My answer, "hell no."

This body journey is one that challenges me every day. I am constantly reminding myself not to compare and to embrace what my body does for me and yes I do have to tell myself, every day, how outrageously sexy I am (we all are, embrace it--right now).  It has been a life of challenges, but I would not be who I am today without them.

So dear friends and readers, love your body. Love what it can do and never feel the perpetuated shame from your past. All we have is right now. We have this very moment to love ourselves and start a life where we are unconditionally in love with ourselves. Stop talking badly about your body and give it some props for keeping you alive for this long.

We are all in this together.

Be inspired. Stay Positive. Love Yourself.

XO,

Marko

We Are All Just Tips of an Iceberg

There are many moments in my life where I have observed the process behind my actions or words. When looking inward, I find myself digging deeper and wondering why I think a certain way or why I react in that manner. After sitting in my counselor's office, she put it all into perspective. She used the term "tip of the iceberg," as she described the person that everyone sees. My personality, my mannerisms, my physical look is just a small ounce of what people see.

As I have made it a point to look inward and put a reason to my thoughts and actions, I found that through my life, I have given a piece of myself to others. Whether it was the moment my father chose addiction over family or me deciding to put a sugar coat over people's perceptions of me and my family, I gave up a little of myself. I gave up the childhood innocence, the worry-free nature of an average teenager, and the life I had always fantasized about. My deep feelings came from fear. Fear to the point of me breaking down and realizing I can't do it all--that I can ask for help and I don't always need to be the helper or the person to have it all together. I say in my blogs that life needs to be lived to the fullest, but most of the time I fear that very statement. The expectations of my greatest life scare the living hell out of me and the opportunities out there are endless.

The quote, "courage, dear heart" could not ring truer to my life at this very moment. Courage, I believe,  is one of the most vulnerable and truest actions a person can take in this life. I have learned that taking large leaps and bounds strengthen me as an overall person. I realized that I had courage when I finally faced my past and the underlying "iceberg" feelings--digging and digging for answers to my instilled thoughts and actions. I had courage when I finally embraced my sexuality. I had courage when I learned to love myself fully. I had courage for saying "no" to people and experiences that did not serve me. I had courage when I applied to college as a first generation student. And I have courage every moment I choose to write a blog post.

The concept of "we are all just tips of an iceberg" embraces the very nature that we only choose to show a piece of ourselves to others and only share certain, non-shamable facts about ourselves. When I finally got to "dig" into these uncomfortable feeling about myself and put the "why" to certain mindsets and actions, I finally felt free. Everything finally made sense and the steps towards courage became easier. I believe, once we share the parts of ourselves that are messy and uncomfortable, we, as humans , connect. We can finally put a face to humanity and empathize with others' experiences. Even though everyone has a very different and diverse story from our own, we learn what it means to be human. We learn that we are not alone in this crazy life. We learn that no one is getting out alive and that we must trust and love one another to get through those tough, growth-inducing experiences.

My dear friends, I leave it up to you. I challenge you to "dig" into the iceberg, that is you. Ask yourself: "Why do I think this way when this certain instance happens?" Once you can do this, I believe, you will feel free. As Elizabeth Gilbert wrote, "Embrace the glorious mess that you are." We are all human. We all have a story. So embrace everything and be courageous in just that.

Be inspired. Stay Positive. Love Yourself.

XO,

Marko

No really, namaste.

Namaste--what a word and what a meaning. Since the beginning of January, I vowed to myself that I would honor all the power that resides in me. I promised myself that I would do things that make my soul happy and things that challenge me. So I bought myself a yoga membership and didn't look back. This past month I have practiced yoga daily--flowing in and out of asanas, praying for some sort of relief. My thoughts this past year became dark--nothing I have ever experienced. I looked in the mirror wondering what the hell was going on and how was I going to fix this. You could say I was in a total funk or was it just a sign that something needed to change? So I got my ass into therapy and hit the mat. AND what a journey it has become. Every day I get on and off the mat my heart opens, my skin radiates, and I find myself showered in gratitude. It brings me back to sanity, back to the present moments that I take for granted.

When you seal your practice with the word "namaste" you vow to love yourself and thank the teachers around you and within. Simply,  you cultivatecompassion you don't always have for yourself and others. I've learned we are all just balls of cosmic energy that want to radiate light, that darkness is not our natural state. We must honor every being's differences and love ourselves in that process. Think about it--when something bothers you about a person, it is probably something that bothers you about yourself. We are more alike than we think. That's why we must respect others and most importantly ourselves in a world of beautiful differences. "We are united, we are the same, we are one."

{Be inspired. Stay Positive. Love Yourself.}

XOXO,

Marko

I love you, young self.

January's theme has been self-compassion and patience. I walked gently into the new year, breathing deeply and hoping for the best. Since it is a new year, I always make it a goal to clean-up and clean-out--whether it's getting rid of old emails, pieces of paper, clothing, or just anything that no longer serves a purpose in my life. When I was home for a short stint during the holidays, I came across my old journals. One of these was a beautiful leather-bound book and the other a small wire-bound notepad. These served as the transcripts of every thought that consumed me during my last years in high school. I opened each and the tears flowed down my face. When I step back into the old shoes, of self-loathing, embarrassment, and lack of self-worth, it brings back all the fears, all of the many things that once stood in my way. Looking at my younger self, I am floored at what rustled through my head and the value I did not see in myself. I relied heavily on what others thought of me and how they perceived me. Because of these feelings I gained weight, I treated the people I loved so dearly like absolute garbage, and had zero confidence in my skills and abilities.

Looking back, I wish I could tell young Marko that he is so enough, that weight isn't everything, and that he should give zero f**ks what others think. Right now, I smile at how far I have come. That insecure, sad person is forever in the pages of those journals, but without those powerfully sad feelings of insecurity I would not be the person I am. I would not be writing this blog, doing yoga on the daily, posting inspiring things to social media, becoming my very own health coach, or smiling with genuine love and compassion for all beings on this earth. Without struggle, I would not be me.

Things I now know that young Marko should have realized:

-You are loved so intensely by this universe.

-The person that will love you, will love all of you--mind, BODY, soul

-No one really gives a shit about sexuality unless they are scared of their own

-Friends come and go

-EVERYONE HAS A STORY--whether its sad or happy

-You are stronger than you think

-You can inspire others by just being you

-You have opportunities in this life that people are jealous of

-You are so enough that it hurts

My dear friends, what would you say to your younger self? Because I would say, "I F***ING LOVE YOU, young Marko!!!" Respect where you have been and keep moving onward in this crazy  life. We learn something everyday about ourselves. We learn limits, we learn compassion, and we are all here to live fully.

{Be inspired. Stay Positive. Love Yourself.}

XOXO,

Marko