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Philip D.

A Positive Spin


2011: The Year to Suck It Up
February 2, 2011

In the course of our twenty-year friendship, Russel and I have seen each other through thick and thin. During those years, including eight working side by side, there was nothing I couldn't tell him or ask him and I suspect he'd say the same about me. These days, our semi-weekly power walks at dawn provide us time to explore a wide spectrum of subjects, including life with HIV, as we pant, climbing the massive hills of San Francisco.

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My New BFF
December 13, 2010

Talk about a final test. If I treated myself with the same compassion and tolerance that I would offer a kind stranger, my life, at the very least, would have gone a lot smoother and been considerably more fun. Luckily, it turns out you can teach a middle aged dog some new tricks, and it appears I've still got some decades left to use them. The past eight weeks I practiced and cultivated some pretty useful skills and I have a damn good feeling that some of them will enable me to eventually become the man I always hoped I would be.

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I Trust in Us
December 6, 2010

When I re-read what I just typed, I instantly became aware how contracting HIV has honed my instincts. I suppose survival will do that. Through too much of my life I believed that I should follow the advice of those who knew more about something than I did, even when deep down, it didn't feel right. Forty-six years and a million mistakes later, I now know that there is no authentic replacement for that kind of inner truth that rarely steers me wrong. I just have to remember to honor it.

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Let It Be
November 21, 2010

This week in place of the Body Scan, I used both the Standing and Lying Yoga exercises found in the workbook to cultivate mindfulness. I've been hooked on yoga and the stillness it consistently provides me for over ten years, so to be honest, these both felt comfortable and safe. For those that have a hard time sitting still, I don't think there's a better way to quiet the mind than yoga. Doing the poses my body is kept so busy that thinking becomes harder to do and so much less important than breathing.

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Patience and Paradox
November 8, 2010

I love this definition from Jon Kabat-Zinn. I realize that patience is the difference between smart and wise and have come to understand it's something that only years of experience can provide us.

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The Sound of Silence
October 31, 2010

Fell off the mindfulness wagon for a couple of days. I regressed back to my old ways, becoming involved in a complex project over the weekend, and found it hard to start up again. I discovered why I've kept both my mind and my body so busy, particularly since testing HIV positive. But instead of judging myself like I normally might, I simply noticed my discomfort around feeling emotions and gave myself space until I was ready to begin again on Tuesday.

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A Beginner's Mind
October 20, 2010

As I wind up my first two weeks of cultivating Mindfulness, I'm still not sure the best, most concise way of relaying what I've learned, allowing you some insight into how I'm doing it, without boring you to tears. I don't think I've ever attempted something that sounded so simple but in practice, required such a true level of commitment. Please don't let that scare you; there's a wisdom that comes with the lessons that can't help but improve your life, regardless of your HIV status.

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One Step Forward
September 29, 2010

Sometimes I forget how lucky I am. Sure, I got the devil coursing through my veins but I also have a wealth of resources that I can tap into when the going gets tough. Several weeks ago, after discovering that my bout with depression could not be blamed on HIV meds, and instead required some more inward work, I began the arduous quest for a new therapist. Although it wasn't my first, I knew this time really had to be different; so I started asking around. As I've mentioned before, John happens to be in the mental health field. Subsequently, I had plenty of folks to look to for help.

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A Bitter Pill
September 7, 2010

I'm not going to pretend my inbox is flooded with readers' responses, but the best part of doing this blog are the connections I've made with people that take time out to read what I've written, and share something about themselves with me. Surprising as it is to those who truly know me, I'm asked how I stay so "upbeat" (the word most often used) with such a nasty little viral addition to my life. To that my man, John, might just laugh until he cried. I wish I found it quite as funny but to be truthful, depression and I go way back and HIV and the meds haven't helped matters. Or so I thought.

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Adding Life to Our Years
July 7, 2010

Maybe it was pure coincidence that I had just begun working with a Life Coach several months before being diagnosed HIV positive, but then again you never know. Since I had no therapist at the time and was still unsure of who I could disclose my new status to, the hours that Geary and I spent on the phone "coaching" were precious and pivotal in the months that followed. In fact, I'd like to dedicate this post to the man that has taught me some fundamental lessons, more valuable than a year's supply of HIV meds. One in particular I'd like to run past all of you.

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A Positive Spin


Philip D.

Philip D.

After testing HIV positive in 2007, I promised myself that I would make something "good" from all that I was handed. From the very beginning, each time I was presented with an obstacle or challenge, I also received some help. Usually in the form of a person, sometimes an opportunity; but I have grown so much, it has made it impossible for me to call the past few years "bad." Although I've never written much of anything before, I have been so incredibly fortunate, I feel like I must pay it forward somehow. Maybe by sharing my experience, it will help those starting later in the game, on the fast track to HAART, or anyone that's feeling a bit isolated or "stuck" with their diagnosis.


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