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While I am not a member of a 12-step program, I find the 12 steps are useful for anyone struggling with an addiction. In reality, most of us have some kind of addictive or compulsive behavior that interferes with our happiness.
In his book “Spirituality and the Twelve Steps”, Richard Rohr writes “There are shared and agreed-upon addictions in every culture and institution. They may not look like addictions because we have all agreed to be compulsive about the same things. There is the American addiction to oil, war and power; the white person’s addiction to superiority; the wealthy person’s addiction to entitlement."
No matter who we are, we are all addicted to something, and the 12 steps can be useful for us all. Here is my interpretation of the first six of the12 steps:
Step 1: Powerlessness. We cannot control our lives, no matter how much we try. Whether you believe in a Higher Power or not, this step is about realizing that it’s not all about you, and never will be. This is wonderful news for perfectionists. As long as you cling tightly to YOUR way as the RIGHT way, you are doomed to unhappiness. Since so much of life won’t go your way: can you be at peace with this or will you fight it every inch of the way?
Step 2: Your Mind Cannot Take You There. The Buddhists talk about “monkey mind”: your mind is a thought-generating machine and won’t ever take you to a place of peace. Your mind will tell you anything. For example, your mind says, “I’m a good-looking, kind person”. Then, a few minutes later, it tells you, “I’m an ugly, mean person.” This is left brain stuff. If you want peace, focus on right-brain activities like music, art, dancing, nature, being with animals, loving relationships and life-affirming sexuality.
Step 3: Accepting What Is. We have an endless capacity for self-loathing. Instead of accepting our flawed selves, we fight the truth, get aggressive with ourselves and others, try to power through our day and wonder why we’re too exhausted after work to have any fun. Surrender has become a dirty word, associated with failure and losers. Ironically, it’s actually the path to peace.
Step 4: Take A Good Look at Yourself. Knowledge can come from reading a book, but wisdom comes from looking at yourself. We all have a shadow self that we don’t want to see, but that others see quite clearly. I like the saying, “The truth will set you free” and would add:, “but first it’s gonna piss you off.” See yourself clearly and notice what you’re doing that brings you unhappiness. (Gradually) stop doing it. This is what psychotherapy is about: you stop blaming other people and see that YOU are the problem.
Step 5: Tell The Truth. In a world that encourages addictions to shopping, food, unrealistic body images, workaholism and emotionless sex, it’s hard to know the truth about who you really are. A 12-stepper told me: “You’re only as sick as your secrets.” Shame comes from hiding things. You think you’re so bad or messed up, that no one else is like you. Telling the truth is freeing; keeping secrets is bad for your mental health; plus, it takes a lot of energy to remember who you told what lie to.
Step 6: Am I Willing to Change? We all have defects of character, but are we willing to change? Change is scary. As one of my clients told me, “Who am I going to be when I come out of this?” We don’t know. We are leaping into the unknown. And yet, without being willing, change rarely happens. In my experience, we don’t need to know HOW to change, we need only be WILLING. And that willingness is enough; the Universe/God/whomever can work with that and send us just what we need to get the change process going.
Step 7: Asking for help. Why can’t we fix ourselves? Why can’t we use our willpower and push through our obstacles? Unfortunately, none of us can do it all on our own. The original 12 steps invoke the help of a Higher Power, but if that doesn’t work for you, why not use other forms of assistance like good friends, wise elders, psychotherapy, insightful books, workshops or all of the above? This step is about admitting that we need help to change and, for some of us, that ain’t so easy.
Step 8: Who have you harmed? This step makes sense to almost everyone, here’s the original wording: “Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.” I doubt that any of us get through life without harming a shitload of people. We get scared, act badly, want revenge, and enjoy feeling superior because it hides our inferiority. We manipulate people because we’re afraid to confront them directly. It’s EASY to harm people, but not so easy to own up to it.
Step 9: Making amends. This is the action part of step 8. Once you realize who you’ve messed with, lied to, hurt or deceived, now you get to own it and apologize.
For most of us, this is really hard. It is incredibly humbling…and yet, incredibly freeing to make amends. You are wiping the slate clean.
This doesn’t mean that the person you’re apologizing to is going to forgive you, or even want to speak with you. A happy ending is optional. The joy comes from your internal freedom at cleaning up your old messes.
Step 10: Continue to take a personal inventory and admit when you are wrong. If the world operated on this level of self-awareness and honesty, it would be quite a wonderful place. To me, a personal inventory means being self-aware: watching myself, questioning my motivation for doing things, being cognizant of my thoughts, choosing to create peace over war, and consciously choosing to forgive when it’s much easier to judge and punish myself and others.
Step 11: Thinking differently. Wouldn’t it be great to be able to go out and buy a new mind or update it like you do your smartphone? In a way, you can.
This step is about updating your cognitive “software” through a spiritual revolution. The original step focuses on prayer to God and meditation, but even atheists can be quiet, listen to their intuitive self and meditate. It’s about being still and listening, not talking or taking action. It’s about quiet time, time spent in nature or around animals, reading something that makes you think, and allowing other people to inspire you.
Step 12: Giving back. When you learn something new, don’t you want to share it with people you love?
As a farm boy in Ohio, I remember one of my grandma’s friends saying, “You can’t get to heaven on your own; you got to take someone with you.”
As a community, we grow and move together. We’re all connected: when you prosper, it paves the way for me to do the same. When you have a wonderful relationship, it shows the rest of us that we can have one too.The 12 steps have, historically, been helpful to millions of 12-step members all over the globe. Many people have gotten hung up on the “Higher Power” part.
Take the essence of the steps and put them to use in your own life. The steps offer a simple and effective system of personal growth and change.
And don’t feel you need to have some big dramatic “addiction” for them to be useful. Whether you notice unhelpful behavior relating to sex or shopping, eating too much or spending too many hours at your job, give the steps a try and see what happens.
Rumble Boxing, the boxing-inspired group fitness studio, opened its doors for the first time in Nashville on June 20 at 609 Overton St, Nashville, TN. The hottest workout on the block is hosting its official grand opening from August 4th-7th with daily classes, membership specials, and prizes from local vendors. The new Rumble Boxing studio is currently offering a buy one class, get one free promotion for the Nashville community.
Rumble Boxing delivers 45-minute, 10-round, strength and conditioning group workouts, crafted around teardrop-style aqua boxing bags and high-intensity strength training circuits. This brings all fitness levels together to experience what Rumble is known for: combining the sweet science of boxing with high energy and positive vibes.
Rumble Boxing Fitness Studio
Photo courtesy of Rumble Boxing Gulch Nashville
This boutique fitness brand offers serious benefits like increased stamina and strength, with cardio that’s actually fun. The seasoned trainers at the new studio are thrilled to serve their local community while offering this fun, new modern approach to boxing and welcome members of all fitness levels to the Rumble family.
The new Rumble Boxing studio is owned and operated by Blake Baskin and Antonio Compton. With their background in the fitness industry, this dynamic duo is excited to bring their passion for boxing and group fitness to Nashville. As business and life partners, Blake and Antonio aim to create a strong community within their new Rumble Boxing studio and share their message of non-apologetic inclusivity.
Black and Gay-Owned Business
Rumble Boxing Store with Dolly Parton Mural
Photo courtesy of Rumble Boxing Gulch Nashville
“We own who we are, and this brand aligns with that perfectly,” said Antonio. “This is what we want to create and bring to this community: a fitness class that is designed for anyone and a place for people to be who they are. As a Black and gay-owned business, we want to help lower the division we see in the world right now. Our goal is to bring people together through Rumble, set everything aside, and have fun.”
To echo their message of acceptance and inclusion, Blake and Antonio commissioned a local Nashville artist to paint an 11 X 6-ft. mural of Nashville icon and philanthropist, Dolly Parton. The massive portrait features the country star in Rumble Boxing gear in the lobby of the studio.
The excitement and buzz around Rumble allowed Blake and Antonio to recruit top-tier trainers to head up the new studio, including Head Trainer Oronde Jones, a well-known celebrity trainer in the Nashville market.
Rumble Boxing Fitness Studio
Photo courtesy of Rumble Boxing Gulch Nashville
“Compared to other fitness classes, Rumble is a class you can truly get lost in for 45 minutes. With the dark room, you don’t have to worry if anyone is paying attention to you. The music is awesome and inspiring, and the beat drops right when you need it the most. Also, with boxing being a sport you can never truly master, you’re always improving and crafting your skill. On the floor, you’re consistently doing something new, which prevents you from ever hitting a plateau.” Said Oronde Jones about his favorite part of Rumble.
Rumble has massive brand loyalty and widespread appeal, partly thanks to attracting top names like Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez, Kendall Jenner, Hailey Baldwin, Jason Derulo, David Beckham, and Kevin Hart to its studios.
About Rumble Boxing
Founded in New York City in 2017, Rumble is a group fitness concept delivering a mix (or combination) of boxing-inspired circuits and the transformative power of resistance training. Pro and amateur fighters glove up together, no matter their fitness level or skill, to reveal their inner fighter. The experience is a 45-minute, 10-round, full-body cardio and strength workout crafted around specially designed water-filled, teardrop-style boxing bags. Rumble was founded by Noah Neiman (former Barry’s Bootcamp Master Trainer, and cast member of Bravo’s Work Out New York), Eugene Remm (Co-Founder of Catch Hospitality Group (Catch Restaurants, CATCH STEAK, Lexington Brass), Andy Stenzler (Co-Founder Cosí, Kidville), and Anthony DiMarco (13-time IRONMAN, former Managing Director, Google).
Who would have thought that we would have to get through a pandemic in order to appreciate the small things we have, such as the ability to simply pack our bags and hit the road?
For two years, there’s been nothing left for us travel junkies to do but sit at home and try to find new destinations that we will conquer once we defeat what appears to be the biggest villain of the 21st century. But once that happens, hold your bags tight because we will be up for some of the most interesting travel experiences. Take a look at some ideas for your post-COVID traveling plans:
A Gay Cruise
One of the best options to have in mind when all of this passes is a good, nice and long (pun intended) gay cruise. Or cruise in general, for that matter. Bear in mind, social distancing will still be a thing in the post-COVID world. But COVID-19 likely doesn’t mean that cruises will cease to exist. On the contrary, though cruise ships will probably keep the number of passengers smaller than before, it is believed that they will become an even bigger hit in the following period, especially because they are all going to go a lot more environmentally-friendly. On the bright side, is there any better way of celebrating the end of the pandemic than by cruising around some magnificent seas, stopping by at great cities and having romantic dinner nights at nice restaurants?
A getaway in nature
On the other hand, there is always the option of stepping away from the hustle and bustle of large cities, and spending some time in a place that’s not only healthy, but also beautiful. Some of the destinations that plenty of people will look for are the ones that can cater for both peace of mind and amazing things to see or do. One such destination is New Zealand, one of the greenest countries on Earth right now. Not only will you be visiting the magnificent country that gave us the beautiful Shire from Lord of the Rings; this is also a destination that’s excellent for everyone who prefers relaxing to partying. If you’re up for some partying, you will be able to hit Auckland, while if you’re for something calmer, there’s plenty of amazing places that you can see and visit.
Dancing Around at Pride
Pride parades are also events that you want to have in mind for the post-COVID world. Such events have always been quite important, but it seems that they are now more important than ever. The virus has canceled more than 75 Pride parades all around the world, which is one of the reasons why we must support the ones that will see the light of day once the pandemic stops. Truth be told, the upcoming Prides will perhaps be the best Prides ever organized. Give the gays a couple of weeks of quarantine, then let them outside and see what kind of party they are able to throw!
A road trip
If you’re, as well, waiting for the day to wake up and say “long gone are the days when we were not allowed to go wherever we wanted?”, and if staying at one place gave you a lot to think about, then your first post-COVID travel experience should definitely be a nice road trip. You can practically choose which country you want to tour, and you can either take your own car (you have probably missed it so much), or rent one at your destination. Australia is an amazing country for this, though, as it offers the possibility of seeing the Great Ocean Road, which is an amazing thing to see and experience. On the other hand, if you do not want or cannot leave your country, you can also choose to go on a domestic road trip – there are amazing things to see in your vicinity as well.
Holiday for a single guy
If you’re single, or you’re traveling someplace with another single friend, then you should definitely organize a nice vacation for yourself or for you and your single friend, and hit one of the best European cities. Europe has been greatly affected by the virus, which means that now it’s time to pay it back and get it back on its feet by traveling there and seeing all the amazing things it offers. Any city you choose in Europe – you will not make a mistake. Apart from being able to see great landmarks, you will also have the chance to have a drink at great gay clubs and pubs, and join unforgettable gay parties. And if the gay scenery is not your forte, worry not, as Europe indeed has to offer so many different and magnificent things.
This article has been republished from Out & About Nashville, and was part of a series of first-person pieces written by the late Bobbi Williams.
When I was 14 years old, I surreptitiously made my way through the stacks in the local library until I came to the Psychology section. One after one, I took down the books whose titles I thought would provide an answer, went to the table of contents and, if there were any, I flipped to the pictures.
Eventually, I landed on one with a word I had never seen or heard: Transvestite. And on the next page there was a black and white photo of a man wearing a dress, looking like he had just crawled out from under a rock. I can still see the expression of guilt on his face.
Not long after that, the newspapers and TV broke the story of Christine Jorgensen, a former member of the U.S. Army who had gone to Denmark to have Sexual Reassignment Surgery (SRS). Of course, the majority of the reports were always accompanied by some sort of joke, such as “Christine Jorgensen went abroad and came back a broad!”
America's First Trans Celebrity: Christine Jorgensen youtu.be
But those two events rescued me. I learned that I was not the only person in the world with this “affliction,” this sense that something wasn’t right. And I got a word I could apply to it and maybe even hope for a cure. But it was too early. I knew that to say out loud, even maybe, that I should have been born a girl, would mean being ostracized, becoming part of the joke, so I chose the path followed by most transgender people of my generation. I put all of my energy into making sure that no one knew.
And that wasn’t easy. For no matter what I did, I couldn’t match the image of the all-American boy, so I became the class clown. If I wasn’t the John Wayne male, at least I could be Lenny Bruce. It was my way of deflecting the mismatch, and, to some extent, it worked.
Others like me took varying escape routes, becoming athletes, businessmen, or whatever role they could slip into and hide behind. Most married, had kids, and did whatever was necessary to survive, with varying results, but never with happy endings.
Segue to the present. The scenario I described above is, to a great extent, still being played out, but now there are exceptions. Transgender kids today can find some consolation on the Internet. They can learn early on that they aren’t “afflicted.” They can make contact with others like themselves. And they can read about transgender people who are proud of themselves and what they have accomplished as well as hearing about transgender children whose parents accept them and allow them to be who they are.
But the information highway is not all smooth driving. And naïve youth can get lost on detours and take wrong turns, winding up as prey to the trolls, predators, and religious zealots—as well as various other kinds of bullies—who inhabit the virtual world.
So is it any better today for our transgender youth? Most still have parents who reject them and peers who bully them. Nearly half of transgender teens have seriously thought about taking their lives, and one quarter report having attempted suicide  compared to a rate of 1.6 percent for the general population.
It’s far from a perfect world. But I believe it is definitely better than the one I grew up in, because it’s a world where the President of the United States has condemned “the persecution of women, or religious minorities, or people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender”; it’s a world where the parents of transgender children have publicly supported their sons or daughters and stood up to schools that would try to discriminate against them; it’s a world where the medical and psychiatric professions have come to recognize that being transgender isn’t a disease. All these things were inconceivable possibilities on the day I sneaked into the library.
Nina Simone To Be Young Gifted And Black youtu.be
When I was a teenager, Nina Simone had a hit record titled “To Be Young, Gifted, and Black” that has since been covered by artists as diverse as Elton John, Rah Digga, and Faith Evans. A portion of the lyrics say, “We must begin to tell our young / There’s a world waiting for you / This is a quest that’s just begun.” That same message applies today.
To be transgender is not a curse; it’s a gift. As Derrick Moeller, a graduate student in Education at Iowa State University and a transman explains, “Having to contemplate what your gender identity and gender expression looks like is a privilege that most folks don’t have to go through” . Rather than being rejected they will know that they have been blessed, so that their plea “Why was I made like this?” will be replaced by a prayer of gratitude: “Thank you for making me like this.”
 Grossman, A.H. & D’Augelli, A.R. (2007). Transgender Youth and Life-Threatening Behaviors. *Suicide and Life-Threatening Behaviors* 37 (5), 527-37.
 Tiffany Herring, January 28 2015 Iowa State Daily [goo.gl/YSL3SC].