Are You a Swamp or a River?

I have a question to pose to you… Are you a swamp or a river? I want you to really ponder this question for a minute. Let me help you put this question in perspective. First we must break down the two bodies of water that are referenced in the question and get an understanding of what the difference is between the two. A swamp is created when water collects in low lying areas remaining trapped there with no outlet. Being that there is no outlet available there is no constant flow of minerals and oxygen in that water, which ultimately leads to that collection of water becoming stagnant and absent of life. When you think of a swamp you think of gloominess, darkness, and unpleasantness. You think of sadness and death. A river on the other hand is full of life. It constantly flows. When you think of a river you think the exact opposite of a swamp. Words such as refreshing, invigorating, and energy can be words that describe a river. You think of happiness and life.

Hopefully by now I have you thinking of swamps and rivers, the images of the two bodies of water, and the vast differences between the two. In all actuality a swamp is like the antonym of a river. Take that and apply it to the mind and our lives. A swamp can represent an unhealthy mind while a river can represent a vibrant, healthy mind. Now ask yourself….what is an unhealthy mind? A mind that is unhealthy is one that may be suffering from a mental illness of some sort. Let’s take it a step further…what is a mental illness? The Mayo Clinic defines mental illness as “a wide range of mental health conditions – disorders that may affect your mood, thinking and behavior”. Some examples of mental illnesses are depression, anxiety disorders, eating disorders, schizophrenia, and addictive behaviors. We all know someone, if not ourselves, that have suffered or is currently suffering from one or more of these examples. Let’s focus more on the definition of mental illness; particularly the part that says the illness “may affect your mood, thinking and behavior”. This part of the definition is very important. By affecting your mood, thinking, and behavior in such a way that a mental illness more than likely will, your daily living/functioning is impacted, which leads you to changing how you go about your day-to-day life. Your actions may become anti-social in a way. For example with depression one may become withdrawn from people or activities; with anxiety one may constantly worry which may cause that person to avoid people or activities.  Think about the mental illness of depression which in many men of color goes untreated. What effect does depression have on your mind and your ability to function normally in day-to-day activities? We must be very honest with our answers to this question. Depression leads people to be trapped in their own mind and life becomes very complicated…especially if the depression goes untreated. The communities of people of color often downplay mental illnesses such as depression and we tend to not seek the professional help needed to manage the symptoms of the illness. We prefer to silently suffer than to seek the help that will allow for normal functionality.

Now remember what I said about swamps and rivers as we look further into the effects that mental illnesses tend to have on people lives. Mental illnesses lead you to becoming more like a swamp. Mental illnesses that go untreated can lead to consequences that negatively impact your life. Mental illnesses lead a person that was once vibrant and full of life, like that river, to become secluded and unpleasant, like that swamp. It is very important that the African American community understand that the topic of mental health has to be addressed and it needs to be discussed in great detail within our communities in order for everyone to be educated on what the mental illnesses are, what the signs and symptoms of them are, and how to treat them. The taboo behind mental illnesses in our communities needs to be overcome. You are not “crazy” if you have a mental illness. You are not a monster if you have mental illness. It’s ok to seek help.

Just because you have a mental illness doesn’t mean that it is the end of the world. Men are prideful creatures that take pride in strength and courage. It takes a strong and courageous man to face the fact that he may be suffering from a mental illness. As we all know mental illnesses can be treated, but if you choose not to do something about it by not seeking help more problems will more than likely occur in your life. Remember mental illnesses have an effect on your mood, thinking, and behavior. Admitting that you have a mental illness is the first step to recovery. The second step, however, is the most important step but oftentimes go unmade in men of color and that is actually seeking help to rehabilitate your mind. To fix a mind that has now become a swamp, you have to open up an outlet in order to let the mind become a river again…a free flowing mind that doesn’t have the constraints that a mental illness will place upon that mind. Treatment is necessary. Just like one has to seek professional help to address illnesses that physically affect the body one has to seek professional help to address illnesses that affect your mentality as well. The demographic that is less likely to seek that professional help for mental illnesses is people of color. Men, we must move to fix this problem!


Now ask yourself….is your mind a swamp or a river? If you have a mental illness or you feel that you may have a mental illness I challenge you to seek help.  I challenge all men to step up and encourage people in their lives to seek help if they have signs of any form of mental illness.


Taking Care of You

We often allow external factors to affect us internally. What external factors are there you ask? You have stresses from work. There are stresses that come from spouses/significant others. There are family stresses. Big ones, not to say that that the previous examples are not, are the financial stresses. What does stress do to our bodies? Many people overlook the effects of stress, especially the long term effects, due to the fact that life is very busy, we decide to fight through it without really addressing it, or we decide to ignore it with hopes that they go away. Check out these facts on stress discovered on the WebMD website under an article entitled The Effects of Stress on Your Body:

  • Forty-three percent of all adults suffer adverse health effects from stress.
  • Seventy-five percent to 90% of all doctor’s office visits are for stress-related ailments and complaints.
  • Stress can play a part in problems such as headaches, high blood pressure, heart problems, diabetes, skin conditions, asthma, arthritis, depression, and anxiety.
  • The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) declared stress a hazard of the workplace. Stress costs American industry more than $300 billion annually.
  • The lifetime prevalence of an emotional disorder is more than 50%, often due to chronic, untreated stress reactions.

Check out this article by going to:

The huge problem that some people have faced as it pertains to handling of stress is that some have forgotten how to enjoy life and take time for themselves. I’m learning that you have to be selfish sometimes in order to ensure that you are physically, emotionally, spiritually, and mentally sound. Your quality of life depends on this. So today take a timeout for yourself and do something for you….no matter how big or how small. Life is too short and each day you wake up it has gotten one day shorter. Healthy eating and exercising, easy-listening music (smooth R&B, easy rock, jazz, classical, Christian, etc.), meditation/yoga, and/or reading and writing are just some examples of ways to handle stresses. Going on walks, going on trips, and/or going to movies are things you can do for yourself just to name a few to remove yourself from stressful situations. Even if it is momentarily any break that comes when stressed can help you. These are things people know that they can do, but often don’t take the time to make them happen. So my question to you as it pertains to how you are dealing with stress in your life is….What are you doing to take care of you?

What’s your testimony?

Testimonial Thursday: Do you have a testimony? Have you been through the fire and made it out stronger and more determined than ever? Don’t be afraid to tell your story. In fact you should want to tell the world your story of how you overcame whatever struggle, conflict, ailment, and/or challenging situation. Your testimony might be that one thing that will help the next person. People are going through personal struggles this day , most of which they go through alone and what you have to tell may be that one thing that will provide them the courage and strength to fight through it. So tell your story, sing it loud so the world can hear you…because I can almost guarantee that SOMEONE needs to hear it today!

Who is H. M. Trey?

H. M. Trey was born in Statesville, NC and currently resides in Charlotte, NC. He earned his B.A. in Exercise and Sports Science from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and his M.B.A. and M.P.A. from Strayer University. Most of his professional career has been spent in the Human Services Field. H. M. Trey has a love for working with kids in the community and being a mentor. H. M. Trey was a part owner of a non-profit organization called Strengthening and Empowering the Lives of our Future (S.E.L.F., Inc.), which had mentoring, tutoring, and sports programs.

H. M. Trey has been writing poetry for many years and has a passion to write, whether it is poetry, music lyrics, or novels. H. M. Trey is a contemporary fiction author and has had two novels published, with a third novel to be published sometime in 2015. In 2008, he set out to write his first novel, with a desire to ultimately become a full-time writer. His debut novel, The Wedding Man, was released in September of 2012. In 2014 H. M. Trey signed as an author with Peace in the Storm Publishing. H. M. Trey’s sophomore novel, Window to the Soul of a man, released October 2014 was his first novel released under Peace in the Storm Publishing. H. M. Trey is currently finishing up work with his third novel, She Will Be Loved. In 2015 H. M. Trey will release She Will Be Loved along with a piece in a nonfictional anthology and H. M. Trey’s first short story.

H. M. Trey lives by what he calls a 3-D Mindset – Determination, Desire, & Drive. With this mindset H.M. Trey is seeking to be that author that is not just known for his writing talents but also for his canny ability to bring his novels to life through the vividness from which he writes.  H. M. Trey is quoted as saying, “Writing is an expression of what’s in your soul. It’s an art form that allows you to paint pictures with the use of words. The beauty of it is that every soul is different so you are able to enjoy many painted pictures from a diverse array of souls through the act of word play. I find joy in writing, whether it is poetry or novel, for it provides me the perfect platform for self-expression”.

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My advice on writing anything that you are aiming to get published ….

The biggest piece of advice is to know your craft or writing style and stay true to it no matter what. My editor gave me some sound advice. She told me that as a writer you should write to your target audience and don’t care what people think about what you write about. Meaning…..some people will talk about your work and try to discourage you. No matter what you will always have someone that will have something negative to say about what you doing no matter what. I have currently two published books and about to have a third book that will be releasing late Spring/early summer of this year. I chose to get an editor to edit my work before I published because it is always good to have another set of eyes to read your work and to be unbiased with critiquing your work before publishing. You always want your best work to be seen by the public, so getting your work edited will show that you are serious about your craft and will ensure that you are not putting out work full of errors. So with that said my advice to any person that wants to write and get there work published:

  1. Write from the heart and never fear writing what you want to write.
  2. Be leery of publishers and editors that are frauds. There are a lot of fakes out there. Always seek contracts and if possible meet the people face-to-face.
  3. Get all work copy written. I send my work to the Electronic Copyright Office to be copy written before I publish to avoid getting work stolen.
  4. Never share ideas with just anyone because some people will steal them.
  5. Use social networks to connect with other writers. Be a sponge and learn all you can from people who have done it and have been successful.
  6. Don’t wait for the “right time” to write a novel. Start your journey now. It’s ok to make errors along the way. That is what editors and writing mentors are for.
  7. Research, research, research. Learn differences between traditional publishing and self-publishing. Learn about different publishing companies. Look into the importance of getting book edited by a proven editor.
  8. Don’t be discouraged by financial needs in completion. Do things one step at a time. This is where research is important as well. Research all avenues so you will know what you will need financially as it pertains to publishing. Financial needs will vary depending on what you are writing (i.e. novel, poetry).

Be an Anchor

“Relationships: If you put up with it, you’re going to end up with it. Set the standard you want and don’t settle for less” ~ Steve Maraboli

Having the ability to hold someone down doesn’t necessarily mean doing so financially or physically. The best ways to hold that special person down are mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. That’s the type of anchor you want to be first and foremost, especially if you are looking to build a strong, loving relationship. Then…..the other stuff will follow as applicable. What typically happens when the foundation of any relationship is a financial one? Unless it is strictly a business arrangement of sorts, relationships can’t survive on financial grounds alone. Well, maybe if that is the agreement coming in and that is all that the relationship is intended to be on…a financial basis, then possibly it might just work. As we know, as it pertains to relationships, people tend to get emotional ties when involved in relationships and this will even happen when the relationship starts off intending to be on a financial and/or physical basis. Do “friends with benefits” relationships really work? That’s another story for another day, but I will say this. Friends with benefits is a sort of relationship that is based upon the physical and in some cases the financial, so in order for this type of relationship to work out all parties involved must be upfront and honest about what it is that all parties seek from the relationship. If this doesn’t happen, someone will more than likely get hurt if the feelings and/or intentions change.

Now back to the matter at hand…being an anchor. To anchor can be defined as to provide with a firm basis or foundation. In order for relationships to last and grow stronger the basis or foundation must be strong and able to withstand adversity and issues that come within relationships. People often get caught up in trying to please a person physically while in a relationship and will often neglect the glue that hold relationships together, such as mental and emotional connections along with spiritual connections as well. What happens when you grow older? What happens when a person gains weight from stress, pregnancy, or health changes? What happens during disagreements? What happens where things may become a little dull? How do you spice up a relationship? How do you recover from bad arguments? Physical connections alone may not be enough to answer such questions. In my opinion a strong base or foundation in a relationship comes from connections that involve mind, body, and soul with mind and soul helping solidify that relationship. So…how can you be an anchor in a relationship? Mentally…if you look at many surveys it will tell you that people believe mental is more important than physical. Why? Because once you connect with someone mentally you can cause sparks to fly simply through conversation which will lead to the physical heating up. A mental connection helps you better understand a person’s real needs, which ties into the emotional connection. How do you make your significant other happy? How do you make him/her smile? How do you resolve differences without the whole relationship breaking down? That emotional connection helps you understand the Love Languages. Read that book by the way….The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman. It’s a great book that talks about what love languages are and how to understand other people’s love language in relationship to you own. And lastly…you have a spiritual connection. This helps you understand a person’s spiritual beliefs and it will bring you closer together. A true spiritual connection tends to go beyond sharing of superficial values such as interests, hobbies, religion, political views, education, etc. It tends to be deeper matters such as core values, principles, and ways that you view life. Spiritual connections bring you closer and lead you to be more comfortable with each other. A mental, emotional, and spiritual connection helps make the physical connection more powerful. With those connections it is easier to be one another’s anchors.

By: H. M. Trey, Peace in the Storm Author