To Unlearn the Past

pictures-of-love-hdFear is such an uncomfortable feeling we often mask it. From the outside we may seem angry, or perhaps even indifferent, appearing to others like we don’t even care. When truthfully, just underneath the surface we’re torn apart, afraid of our own weakness. Some time ago, as children we were taught to “never let them see your fear” and the wall building began. The ones we love most we push away, afraid to let them see that we’re hiding our weakness and fear. The very thing that can set us free, our own truth and vulnerability, when misunderstood, keeps us caged. The words aching on the tip of our tongues, burns our  mouth and seals our lips, hardening our hearts. We push others away, rejecting them before they reject us. Attempting to be in control of our own perceived inevitable pain. Believing that if we burn ourselves it will hurt less than allowing another to burn us. Fear of our own inadequacy imprisons us, we tell ourselves that we’re “not good enough” or that “we don’t deserve” blessings. Sometimes we even destroy the best things in our lives because we believe  we’re not worthy or that we deserve punishment.

There is however, always one thing that can break through all these pains, fears and insecurities…love and honesty. Tell the ones you love most the truth “I love you, and I’m pushing you away because I’m afraid .” Let them know you’re afraid to be vulnerable because inside you fear you’re not good enough or that they might leave you. But remind them that you’re a work of art and you’re changing and growing every day. Invite them to grow with you, ask if they’d like to commit to a partnership of honesty, openness and trusting vulnerability. Is it scary? Of course! But the rewards far outweigh the pain. Knowing without a doubt that someone is willing to work through difficult times with you can help prevent the preemptive sabotage and self-destruction. If we all have multiple people in our lives we commit to supporting and being supported by the security and joy we’ll experience cannot be measured. This leaves us free to focus on our own growth and manifesting the life we want and deserve, but first we must believe we deserve it!

Do you believe?

Reach out to the ones you love today. Remind them how much you love them, openly share your fears. Trust you will be safe.



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LGBT Teens Homeless in South Florida

LGBT-Homeless-Family-RejectionAs many of you know, finding solutions to the issue of homeless LGBT youth is a gnawing passion of mine. I am happy to say that slowly but surely these crucial issues are finding themselves to the media forefront. I was pleased to be one of the individuals interviewed for this article.

“School is just not even an issue if you’re trying to survive,” Mandi Hawke said. “You shouldn’t be concerned about who you are and being accepted and fitting in and bullying and being afraid.”

To read the article click below:



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Am I really an Author?

I am still afraid to call myself an author…why?

Since self-publishing my book last October I have slowly allowed my excitement and passion to fizzle. Because PROUD did not immediately and without massive effort take off, I silently called myself a failure. Because people questioned my target audience saying “you can’t be a best selling author ONLY targeting queer youth,” I believed them and stopped really trying. Why?

Watch this video – it struck a cord with me and had me in tears.  I’d love your thoughts, ideas and any solutions you’ve found that work. I know this my next area of personal growth.



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Robot Wars and Grandma

photo-1On my way to Georgia for my baby brothers High School graduation, when the seat on the plane next to me remained open, I thought I hit the jackpot. Just as they were closing the doors however, the flight attendant walked a small boy over to the seat next to me. With a warm smile the flight attendant reminded him to stay seated after the flight and he would escort him to meet his family.

With big wise brown eyes he tells me that his name is Cayden, spelled with a C, not a K and he is 7 years old and in the 2nd grade. He is the youngest in his class and even though he skipped a grade he still finds everything they’re teaching him very boring, he tells me they keep going over the same stuff, over and over (way to go Florida education system).

As he pulls out his sketch pad, and I pull out mine, he tells me that he is excited that I like to draw too. He shows me how to draw a compass rose and I show him how to draw a nautical star. He tells me his little sister is turning 1 and her name is Lily. We talk about spirit animals, mine is a dragon (and he can draw a mean 3 headed dragon) and his is a shark (he hopes to get one for his fish-tank one day). He tells me about this awesome bracelet kit that Learning Express has, and asks about my rainbow bead bracelet.

After we get our mini bag of pretzels and ginger-ale he tells me about his animals, he has 3 pit bulls, 2 chiwawas, a turtle and 3 cats. I ask him if these are all at the same house and he explains that some are at his moms house, some at his dads and 1 of the dogs is at his grandmas house.

And then very matter of fact he tells me that his grandma married a woman.

“Really?” I say, “how cool.”

He asked me why I thought it was cool. Then I shared with him about me and my partner and our daughter (I told him thats who made my bracelet). He asked to see a picture. Then he tells me that he used to think if a girl said she had a girlfriend that it was weird. I asked him why he thought that. He told me cause he thought that the girls were calling their boyfriends girls. So I asked him if he thought it was still weird and he say no.

Then we drew robots, serious business robots and we were preparing to battle. We started with one, then we drew 2 helper robots so we each had a team. He named his Team Robotics and I named mine Team Laserskates.

Then we wrote our battle story together.

“Team Robotics and Team Laserskates
fight and fight and fight,
but both are too awesome so they become
friends and team up together and
fight the bad guys. 
-The End-
See Our Drawing Below:

As the flight landed I gave Cayden a high five and told him to be good. He said his grandma was picking him up. He reminded me to look up Learning Express when I got back to Ft. Lauderdale.

Probably the best flight I’ve ever had.




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If we could only bottle this…


You know those moments in life when everything is just working? When everything feels so right? I think I finally discovered the key ingredient…and I knew it all along, without actually SEEING it.

Gratitude. Overwhelming, unbelievable amounts of pure unadulterated gratitude!

Last night was one of those nights. Many of you know, I am the Youth Program Director for SunServe, a non-profit social services agency that focuses on serving the LGBTQA (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning and straight allies) community here in South Florida.

At quarter to six last night a steady stream of queer youth began filtering into the youth room to be part of our Triple Power Party. What is the Triple Power Party you might ask? Well, it was the Ribbon Cutting and Launch event for our new Youth Drop In and Cyber Center “The Rainbow Room,” a going away party for our long standing youth/adult advisor (6yrs with us) and staff member (1year) Andrew Frosch. As well as an acknowledgement of  Valentines day week with hearts, lots of love and pink cupcakes.

At six thirty we gathered the youth, parents, family, friends, adult advisors, volunteers and staff for the ribbon cutting. With the snip of the ribbon we open the doors to unveil everything we worked so long and hard for that was FINALLY complete!

I stood by and watched dozens of youth walk around oohing and ahhing, exclaiming “wow” and “cool.”  It was overwhelming, and I was flooded with gratitude.

I really ‘effin LOVE what I do! I love creating a safe space for our queer youth to be themselves, I love when they come talk to me about what’s going on in their life. I love being able to be a mentor and a steadfast adult in their lives.

I looked over to see my partner Ian laughing with on of our youth and again I was filled with gratitude. I have a truly amazing life partner; we have such beautiful communication and unconditional love. She was with me 100% during the youth space renovation journey that consumed (quite literally) the last 2 months of my life. She was painting walls, installing cabinets, mirrors, pictures, making countless home depot runs (you name it); if we needed it, she was there.

Then I see two of my very best friends Tabatha and Jaime. They were standing right in front for the ribbon cutting. Forgiving me for virtually disappearing for the last two months. Tabatha tells me “I had the launch booked from the very first eblast announcement.”

I am surrounded by an unbelievable new staff, alongside my life changing old staff (one moving away for love and another took a promotion within the company) my boss who is beaming, youth who are in awe, friends who are proud, our incredible adult advisors and parents of youth. Last night was just an all around wow, awwww, yessss night!

It’s hard to maintain an emotional high like that for long…and that’s okay. Life is meant to be ups and downs… It often takes a great amount of suffering to awaken you to a glorious moment. But the good news is you can always generate gratitude, even in the darkest moments, there is always something to be grateful for.

When have you had moments like this?

What are you grateful for?








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The “C” Word

FurFam-IMG_0157I was 14 years old and living in South Florida with my father and step-mom. One night we got in a really bad fight, there was screaming and things got physical. What we were fighting about I cannot remember but I know the last stinging words I uttered were “I hate you.” That night I packed my bags and moved to live in Texas with my mom.  I did not talk with my step-mom or father for over a year.

After almost 2 years I got an urgent phone call from my aunt. With a shaky voice she shared that my step-mom had lung cancer and had been admitted to the intensive care unit in the hospital. I was in shock; I had no idea that she was sick, my entire family kept that from me.

With the help of my mom I booked the soonest flight possible and I was on my way back to South Florida. As my flight landed and cell phones could be turned on again, I frantically called my aunt to find out where I was going to meet them. With a deep sigh and a barely audible whisper she let me know that my step-mom had just passed; I didn’t even get to say goodbye or that I was sorry, or that I really did love her. I collapsed in one of the airport chairs and cried for what felt like hours.

For years this pain tortured me, I felt guilty for never being able to apologize and I blamed myself endlessly. I was a total wreck, taking Tylenol PM to fall asleep and NoDoz to function in the morning. I refused counseling, pretended I was fine, stuffed my pain deep down and held a strong front because “big girls don’t cry.”

It was not until my early 20’s that I began to work on healing. But as you know when you don’t heal from something painful it has a way of recreating itself over and over until you do.

I found myself in a long-term relationship with my first girlfriend. After about a year together she was diagnosed with what doctors called an “incurable disease”. Crushed and with a hopeless desperation I tried to push her towards every holistic healing method I could find.  When nothing was working I pushed her away because I could not bear her being sick.  We had a messy breakup and even now we still have a difficult relationship. For years I have held onto this guilt and pain.

It’s been about 3 years and here we are; the same pain has been coming back up again, asking to be healed. My grandpa has been suffering with cancer and my best canine friend Arya has been diagnosed with Lymphoma and was given at most a few months to live.

During the last few weeks our family has watched as Arya slowly got worse and worse.

On Christmas Eve this year she took a rapid turn for the worse, she wasn’t able to breathe and could hardly walk. We made an emergency call to our mobile vet.

As we sat together I told Arya how much I loved her. I thanked her for her unconditional love, friendship and joy she shared.  I told her how grateful I was for her being there for me during every broken heart and emotional time I had. She kissed my face and with her eyes told me she was ready. She laid her head down on my leg and peacefully drifted off.

I finally healed a part of me that was so afraid of death, so afraid of sickness. This time I overcame; I loved her till the end without pushing her away.

I still hurt, but I know everything is going to be all right – I still feel her presence and am grateful she is no longer suffering.

To everyone suffering with pain and loss: Hold strong, there is a gift in the beginning and ending of life.

Arya taught me that







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A Hopeful Beginning

humanitylogo-242x300A recent blog I wrote for The Humanity Project

(Editor’s Note: Mandi Hawke is Program Coordinator of Youth Services at SunServe, an agency committed to improving life for the LGBT community in South Florida. She also is the author of “PROUD: emPOWERment for LGBTQA Youth.” Ms. Hawke wrote this blog especially for the Humanity Project.)

By Mandi Hawke

As you know, there has been a great deal of discussion about 2012 being the end of time. We’ve all heard about the Mayan calendar ending, seen the Hollywood blockbuster movies or perhaps overheard the evening newscasters sharing some fear-based theories. It feels very similar to the Y2K insanity, remember that? The fear bug is so dangerous and contagious that it spreads like wildfire, but you don’t have to accept it into your consciousness. Along with many spiritual folks and light seekers, I believe that 2012 represents the tipping point of a global consciousness shift. Not to say that we’re going to have a sudden complete change in human behavior overnight, but that it’s coming.

To read the rest of the article click here

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