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Mike Valletta

Storyteller. Photographer. Traveler.

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Sometimes, All You Need is a Good Vacation.

There’s something to be said about a vacation that helps put your life in perspective.

As I stated in my last column, I took a week off from social media during my week long hiatus to the mountains of New England. It just felt different. I wasn’t reaching for my phone urging to post every second of the day, instead I insisted on capturing the moments through photography and living in the moment.

It just felt right.

Back in the days before social media, we actually lived. We talked face to face. We took in the moments of life, and relished in them. These days, we are so caught up in who’s going to like what on our pages, that we just let life fly by without giving much thought about the impact it has on our everyday lives.

While away, I embraced every moment offline. I lived to hike new terrain and shared laughter with friends on the trails. I sat and enjoyed dinner while watching breathtaking mountain sunsets unfold before my very eyes. I embarked on mountain expeditions on a train and made it to New England’s highest peak without hashtagging the heck out of an Instagram photo and not living in the moment.

The small town charm of mountain towns, the raging waterfalls of mountain gorges, the calm of mountain lakes, to the wait staff at a small town restaurant that remembered my name. You can’t find this life on a screen. You have to explore your world.

This vacation has taught me a lot, and it taught me how to be more in tune with the world around me. Technology is great, but only when you need it, and we don’t need it every minute of the day. In fact, I was much more satisfied being offline.

Imagine the things I’d miss?

The views, the laughters, the tears, and the moments that really get you unwound. That’s the kind of world we should all be living in. Not one that is surrounded by screen life. We need to interact with each other again, and discover our passions. Life just doesn’t have time to sit and wait for us to figure it out.

Over the coming weeks, I’ll share more on how I’m overcoming my own screen addiction and what I’m doing to ignite the fire toward reaching successes with my own passions. And don’t worry, you’ll also get more of a glimpse of some of the amazing trips I took along the way in New Hampshire.

In a life of constant connectivity, we need to unplug and recharge our batteries, for time just isn’t going to stand still.

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Have We Become Too Addicted to Social Media? 

Raise your hand if you’ve become fixated on social media.

I’m going to guess that many of you have raised your hand. Our lives have become a social media frenzy. Who’s doing what? Why is she posting pictures of him eating his Cobb salad? What did Donald Trump say now?

Time for a break.

For the next week, I’ll be away in the mountains of New England enjoying peace and tranquility without the constant connectivity. For once, I will actually be putting my phone on airplane mode and focusing on the world around me. It’s a beautiful world, and we all need to pay more attention to it and less to the screens that drive anxiety and depression and have us thinking that the world is a cruel place.

It’s actually the complete opposite.

Have you taken the time out to enjoy the views? I mean truly, not just view it for five minutes while snapping away to your friends on Snapchat or hashtagging the heck out of the view via Instagram. Have you taken a deep breath and truly enjoyed that moment?

Odds are, probably not.

Taking a social media detox is also a tech detox. In an age where technology drives our lives, it’s important to tune it out. Instead, I’m packing a couple of good books, a journal and pen, and a yoga mat  to help bring myself back to center.

The idea came to me about a few weeks ago when I found myself complaining about how I felt after being on my phone all day long. Have you ever noticed how tired it makes you? Think about the impacts it’s having on your brain at the same time. Not much of it is positive seeing as there is an abundance of negativity being posted daily.

When it comes to living your life, social media can wait. It will still be there after you get back from your journey, but it’s important to take it in as much as you can for you never know what the next second can bring.

Have a great week. Time to sign off.

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In the LGBTQ Community, You Have to Know Where to Draw the Line.

You know, at some point in our lives we have to ask ourselves a question. We have to keep considering, what exactly are we doing with our lives?

This past summer, I have been reflecting on much of that. As I approach thirty in nearly one week, I ask myself if what I have been doing over the past five years is really what I want to be doing for the next five years.

Short answer? No.

The extended answer is much more complicated. You see, while I am satisfied with how I have progressed in my professional life, I’m not so satisfied with how I have progressed in my personal life. It may come as a shock to many since I am the perpetually happy person that wants to make sure everyone is living their lives to the fullest capacities.

It all started around the age of twenty-four, right around the time of my coming out as a gay man. I thought I knew everything there was to know. I would go on with my life and just continue being a gay man.

Wrong.

Becoming a gay man, for me, meant many things. Most importantly of which, was to broaden my circle of friends with those who identity as LGBTQ. It would later help foster lasting relationships and help to ease the burden of being a gay man.

Bet you didn’t think being gay was hard, did you? Oh, contraire!

As I evolved in the gay community, so too did my lifestyle. I started steering away from the very things that made me happy. Instead of mountain biking, backpacking, and traveling to new places as I had been doing prior to my coming out, I was now fully engulfed in the scene of being at gay clubs, brunches, and the gay hook up culture thanks to apps such as Grindr.

In fact, I had become so embedded in the culture that I had forgotten what I once loved; real life.

The real life I speak of is not that of spending time on Grindr telling myself I have to catch them all. Nor is it attending every gay social event that I can, or spending countless of hours on a weekly basis at gay clubs.

Surprise! Not me!

The real me loves the outdoors. The real me loves to travel and explore the world without being glued to hook up apps. When did I become that guy?

It’s easy to do, especially in our community. The yearning to be constantly youthful is mighty. The pressure of trying to find the right guy in bed. It all becomes such a sensation. One day, you’ll wake up and realize, you have to start drawing the line somewhere.

As I turn thirty, I realize it’s time to change direction. Off go the apps, dwindle will time be spent at clubs, and lastly, hello world, I’m back.

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Statement Regarding Orlando Events. 

I am very proud to be a gay man. I am very proud of our community.

After celebrating Boston pride yesterday and seeing the numerous faces from all walks of life celebrating with us, it is clear to me that regardless of what happened today, there is a great amount of love for our community and we thank you for your unconditional love and support.
With that said, let us keep those impacted in our thoughts and prayers and do whatever we can to help out. The world needs more compassion, not hate.

The celebration of Pride events is important. Today, we learned of just how important that is. We are not free. We are still surrounded by so many pockets of hate. It is important to stand together as a community and celebrate who we have become, and where we are as a community today.

I would urge you to not live in fear. Attend Pride events. Attend LGBT nightlife activities. Celebrate who you are. Our community is strong, and our supporters, even stronger.

As I stayed glued to the television today, I did so with tears in my eyes. I am just as hurt to see what unfolded. My heart raced as I saw the numbers escalate from 20 to 50.

How could anyone be so cruel? To take the life of innocent human beings who were just out enjoying their life under the Orlando moonlight.

Our tight knit community is committed to coming together to helping each other out during this terrible tradgedy. I will also be doing what I could in the days ahead.

Stay strong. Stay vigilant. Most importantly, stay true to yourselves. I love you all. Don’t back away from who you are because of hate.

Michael Valletta

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Summertime Agenda: Live.

Summer is coming. What do you have on your summer 2016 bucketlist?

Many people dream of long days on the beach, weekend getaways with the family, or perhaps a few martini parties while hosting a summer BBQ. Burgers anyone? There goes that summer beach body!

This year, I’ve compiled a list of just what I want to accomplish. Being that it is my 30th birthday in August, this summer has got to go out with a bang. No questions asked. (Really, don’t ask questions. You’re better off not knowing some things.)

Plans range from taking part in Pride season parades all the way to vacationing in Provincetown during the infamous Carnival week festival.

Of course, there are things on that list a little more suttle. Vacationing on islands and drinking wine at numerous wineries would account for that, right?

Right. Just agree and humor me.

Past Summer’s for me have always been about connecting with friends who refuse to come out of their bungalos all winter. They sit home until rays of sunshine and men can be splashed all over thier bodies.

Well, I suppose that doesn’t sound too depressing.

This summer, I not only plan to make the most of it with friends, I also plan to take more time out for myself. As I enter the realm of my thirties, I have begun to realize that life isn’t about the constant social aspect, rather being at peace with yourself and your surroundings. However, my surroundings usually include a bottle of wine. That’s where the fun begins.

Carrying on.

Whatever you have planned for this summer, make it memorable. Most importantly, make sure you make it the best summer you can for you. If you want to do something, don’t wait for others. Go out and do it.

After all, summer doesn’t last forever. The memories will.

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Love is a Battlefield

Don’t let love go.

Why do we complicate the simple things in life? These simple things, are the ones we too often take for  granted. We are compelled to keep searching for something better in the world, but is that what we really need?

Recently, I did some research on the topic. To my surprise, I was appalled by the number of people that regret losing out on love that they let go, just so thy could have a chance to see what else could be better in the world. In most cases, their original love was sitting right under their nose the whole time, and they let walk away. They had someone who was dedicated to their needs, their desires, and their future as a couple together. Instead, they abandoned true love and became selfish and absorbed in thier own thoughts of the possibility of finding better. In the end, they regretted and were too ashamed to admit this to the person they walked away from.

As humans, we naturally complicate life. We test each other out. We try to make sense of every situation. When in reality, some situations don’t need explaining, rather just a feeling.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot as of late.

If you love someone, why are we so afraid to tell them? If we have a strong desire to see what a relationship can blossom into, why not admit it? Our nerves certainly get the best of us, I’m sure. However, if we were more honest and upfront about our feelings, ideally we would live in that perfect world where we don’t complicate things.

Life is complicated enough. Don’t complicate the most important thing in your life; your love. If there is someone trying to show you the world, but you’re running away from the notion of it, think twice. Don’t lose out on what is possibly the best thing that has ever walked into your life.

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Stop Swiping Left! Why Our Judgemental Society is Letting Us Down.

Prior to judging others, judge yourself first.

It has been a interesting week in the single life of being Mike Valletta. It was the first week that I had not gone on one date. I guess after writing last weeks column and discussing how I needed to slow down and start focusing on my life more, I took my own advice quite literally. It’s not a bad thing. This week has allowed me to take a step back and view the world that is around me, instead of trying to jump in the arms of a new man each day. 

As I studied the world, I also studied the people in it. We are so judgemental. Why is that? Why do we feel the need to constantly judge people before we even get to know them? It’s human nature, and it’s wrong

I was having a discussion about this very topic with one of my very good friends recently. I explained how excited I was to meet some people that I have dates with in the coming weeks, but that I caution myself because they are too young or their actions that they portray through social media are not of my own standards. Guess what I was doing? I was judging. I was literally judging the books by its covers, without first getting to even touch the covers! What poor character that was. I could be missing potential men that actually have a great core, yet I sit and judge them based on what little I see or know. I quickly paused, retrained my brain on being a considerable adult, and was a little more open minded about the possibilities of these men.

Could we be missing out on our future soul mates because we won’t give people chances? Absolutely. Give people a chance and in turn, you’ll be giving love a chance as you let people into your life you otherwise would swipe left to on Tindr.

Think about it.

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Don’t Rush the Love.

Have you ever sat and reflected on what is going on in your life? You know, took a little time out for yourself to recollect your thoughts and bring yourself back to center stage?

Odds are, you have not. I’m also guilty of doing the same. We live in such a fast paced world that often times, we totally forget about our own well being. We constantly thrive to put others first. It’s not a bad thing. I love to put others well being before my own. In fact, it’s something I’ve always done while in a relationship, and that’s not bad either. Being single has taught me that I need to change a little bit, however. Constantly putting others before myself has caused me to scale back operations of my life, and disturb my own well being. 

As I continue to adapt to single life, I’ve realized that I am suddenly finding myself at the gym more than ever. Not only that, I’m also working to accomplish new career paths. These are things I have put aside in order to ensure all the very best energy was given to my partner. Was it wrong? Absolutely not. What was wrong, however, is that I did not mold my own life into the equation as much. It’s been a refreshing lesson to have learned, and as I look toward the future, I’ll know exactly how to mold it all together. I have an agenda, and I am laser focused.

All of these thoughts, however, have brought me to question my dating habits. Am I going on too many dates? Is it what I really need right now as I concentrate on building a solid future? I sat down recently and reflected on this. I had my notebook open and wrote out exactly how going on dates made me feel inside. The answers surprised me. 

Dating, in general, has been very healthy for me. I’ve enjoyed meeting other men, and having the opportunity to learn more about how others live is inspiring. Sometimes. Other times I’m running away from the dinner table in fear of having my mental health poisoned. 

What I have learned, however, is that I do not need to be in a rush to fall in love. I’ve gone on so many dates that after a while, I’ve forgotten who is who and when we even went on a date! This is dangerous. There are weeks I have four men or more lined up. One look at my Outlook calendar as I was writing in my notebook about my dating life taught me a quick lesson; slow down, Michael.

It is said that if you are in the market for love, you should let it come naturally. Why haven’t I been doing that? I have learned that it’s something I need to do as I continue to build my life. We shouldn’t be in such a rush for love. In time, it will come. No where does it state that you should get married by a certain time in your life, right? Right. Slowing down and taking the appropriate time out to take care of yourself is vital to not only you, but to your partner or future partner as well.

Only fools rush in love. 

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Gay. Single. Weekend Warrior.

Weekends were made to set yourself free.

It’s a Saturday night. Evening wear is out and ready to be steam pressed.  Shower is on as a miniature facial is in process to maintain a youthful look for the long evening ahead. What’s planned? Absolutely everything.

Welcome to the single gay mans weekend. A combination of everything you’re currently visioning in your head. It’s the weekend, and I am magnetic. Uber drivers instnstly become my best friends as of 10PM, and bartenders and shot boys take center stage by 11PM at the gay bars. Poles were made to be danced on, and shirts were made to come off. It’s really no wonder as to why so many gays end up staying single. The life is attractive.

If you’ve ever seen me out and about, you would know for all of the above to be true. I am guilty. Should I feel guilty though? Absolutely not. Weekends were made to set yourself free and to let go of the negative energy that consumed you through the week. After all, do we really want to carry the burden of the people who frustrate us at the office into next week? Like a volcano, you’ll eventually explode. Use the weekend as your time to get lost. Though please, not litteraly. I do not want to be responsible for having to send a rescue team searching for you. 

Some ask if a constant string of social events is healthy for someone who is nearly thirty. Live young and have fun. If you don’t live young, you’re only getting older. The clock is ticking. Before it’s too late, live your life with as much energy and passion as you could, and become electrified on the weekends. It is the weekends where the rebalancing of our lives takes place, and we wake up focused and ready to conquer the week ahead on Monday.

I’ll eventually settle back down, after all I’m in the market for a husband not just another boy from the Grindr app, but while I’m single, I will absolutely live my best life possible. One that is surrounded by friends, positive energy, and the occasional pole dancing.

What happens at the clubs, stays at the clubs. It’s the Vegas of the gay world.

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