ACTUALLY, VIRTUAL by Howard Diamond, CPS

Originally posted by Well-Being EX on November 19, 2020 at 5:14pm

Actually Virtual or is it Virtually Actual? No problems here. Stating for

the record, this is what I am trying to figure out, actually. Perhaps an

ideal way to begin here was by using virtual means, my tablet. Daunting

task that this was, I challenged myself which made me more confident in 

my overall abilities to write. Despite what was going on around us, I also

agreed to grab the virtual bull by the horn and take on this quest by telling 

an actual accurate article. Say that five times fast.

With COVID19 still running around without a glimpse of an end in sight, 

there are many people that remain out of work. For me, I am a New York 

State Certified Peer Specialist. Currently,  I am on disability and sort of

looking for part-time Peer Specialist positions. Also, while searching 

for employment, I noticed that openings were posted with the future 

interviews being held in both actual and virtual formats. So, it is up to

Sherlock Holmes, (me of course), to solve this mystery. 

Virtual means almost or nearly as described. However, not completely 

or according to a strict definition. It is merely feasible or imagined. Not

anything to be afraid of, but it will take practice to use the media gizmos

that are used. For me as well. Sometimes, virtual is fabricated or made up 

in someone’s imagination in an effort to embellish a story. Recently, in 

this 21st Century, virtual is used by computer techs and many average

individuals to simulate an item(s) or person(s) that are not there. Wave, 

everyone. All of us, including Peer Specialists, like myself, live in a world of 

many modern conveniences, like virtual meetings where we don’t leave the 

house to attend.

An example is a series of virtual events that has been happening in 2020

until November 3rd. Yes, I am talking about Election Day. What occurs 

virtually, is that most pollsters go around the country gathering a lot of

their information on a variety of different issues. Then, it is interpreted 

and reported virtually what was found and finally they make assumptions 

why and which candidate people voted for. Now this is how the process 

starts. Predictions reign supreme here. 

Let us discuss the word actual. It is shown as a concept or idea that

exists entirely in fact. This is done quite typically by what was intended 

to be as a contrast with that was possibly expected or even thought of 

or believed. Always actual is known to be correct or precise. Also, actual 

happens now and in current terms. Going back to the elections, November 

3rd is Election Day (actual fact). Each vote is painstakingly counted 

(actual fact) and the exercise continues.

However, in the 2000 Presidential Election between Al Gore and

George Bush, there were allegiance discrepancies in the ways actual votes

were counted. It felt like to me as if some people caste their ballots in a

virtual device, playing with the flippers quite similarly to a pinball machine or 

tapped keys on a computer. Perhaps, it was regarding a variety of queries 

incorrectly or these votes were not totaled. Eventually, most or all of the 

tabulations were both finalized and revealed. George Bush was determined 

o win and a few months later he was inaugurated as the President of the 

United States. The rest, shall we say, is History. Go ahead, everyone fact 

check this actually.

Virtual meetings are real-time interactions that take place over the Internet

combining audio and video, chat tools and application sharing. They offer a 

way to engage people in fully interactive, online learning experiences such as, 

lectures, discussions and tutoring. Also, during a virtual meeting, it becomes

significantly harder to discern people’s facial expression and feelings about 

the topic being mentioned. 

As a Peer Specialist, I have gone to many meetings, both actual and virtual

ones.  Personally, I have no preference. There are advantages for each way. 

Virtual meetings gives me the space where I am to do other things or even 

leave with minimal distractions. Often times, meetings are held and seen

in different cities or states and people do not have to travel. Since COVID19, 

more virtual conferences are common place and can be seen and heard 

anywhere plus anytime. 

At many actual seminars, one can share thoughts and opinions to a live

person besides them. Commonalities are seen on the spot and as written

earlier, facial expressions and gestures are noticed more easily. When we 

are in front of someone, expounding of thoughts and ideas occur, which 

leads to a more effective dialog. In addition, these actual statements can

occasionally turn into long term professional relationships.

In the paragraphs above, we might have learned about the differences

between actual and virtual. Before this article concludes, I will try to give 

two additional examples. Hopefully, effectively too. Election Day was 

actually this week in the United States, so it is was our constitutional right 

as citizens to vote. This year we can vote virtually with absentee ballots or

go to a polling place on that day and do our duty and put in an actual vote. 

Also, I am talking about my significant other, Maureen, who actually died 

on June 12, 2015.  When I think about her here or somewhere else, it can 

only be virtual, but my feelings are actual. Of course, these feelings are 

most definitely and actually true! Sweetie, I love you, I miss you and I still

wish you were here. See you in the News Blogs.



Howard Diamond lives in Long Island, New York.  Howard is a New York State Certified Peer Specialist.  He enjoys writing and contributes written pieces regularly to the Well-Being EXchange.


Accessible 2-Minute Breathing Techniques That Will Change Your Life

“Breathe” – a street sign along a path in Laguna Beach, CA (USA)

Who hasn’t experienced a moment of stress or anxiety when someone close by who notices or situation gives us a simple one word instruction, “Breathe.” What do they really mean when they say, “breathe?” I am going to guess that what they are seeking to communicate is that our breathe is one of our most accessible self-regulatory tools and if we have a properly practiced breathing routine it would allow us to arrest moments of anxiety, stress, and anger simply by our knowledge and understanding of breathing. With that said, for me personally I spent close to 41 years on planet earth before I ever encountered an actual how-to lesson explaining a so-called, breathing technique. Oy vey!!

You Are Not Alone! – Knocking Out The Stigma in Omaha, Nebraska

Our founder, Don West, Jr. has spent a lifetime developing strong bonds to amazing individuals who are making the world a better place in their own unique ways.  Below is a spotlight of one such individual, Sara B. Dappen, of Omaha, Nebraska.  Way to set an example, Sara!  You are a Peer Support Superhero, for sure, a role-model, and an inspiration to our entire #KOTSFamily.

The 4 Stages of Mental Health Recovery

Dr. Mark Ragins, MD’s 4 Stages of Recovery

We were introduced to the 4 stages of mental health recovery as proposed by Dr. Mark Ragins, MD through Project Return Peer Support Network, (PRPSN), as a part of their six-week Peer Professional Training & Placement Program, (PPTP).

1 – Hope

2 – Empowerment

3 – Self-Responsibility

4 – A Meaningful Role In Life

#mentalhealthrecovery #recoverymodel #hope #empowerment #selfresponsibility #meaninfulrole #anxiety #stress #ptsd #bipolar #manicdepression #schizophrenia #personalitydisorder #socialanxietydisorder #peersupport #peersupportspecialist #certifiedpeersupportspecialist #CPSP #LPSP

Do you talk to your inner child with self-compassion?

KOTS Food For Thought

1. Do you have an awareness of your old versions of you, what some refer to as the inner child?

2. Is your inner dialogue kind or critical? When dealing with yourself do you employ empathy and compassion? Why or why not?

Empower your own well-being & join us as we #KnockOutTheStigma surrounding #mentalhealth!

#selfcompassion #selflove #selfcare #innerchild #foodforthought #mentalhealthcommunityorganizer #KOTSWisdom #KOTS #mentalillness #mentalhealthstigma #peersupport #peerspecialist #peersupportspecialist #peeradvocatespecialist #mentalhealthpeerspecialist #mentalhealthadvocate #mentalhealthawareness #endstigma

California Legislature passes SB 906 creating state Certified Peer Specialists

The California Legislature passed SB 906 creating state Certified Peer Specialists in the state of California.

More info:

#KnockOutTheStigma surrounding #mentalhealth #mentalhealthcommunityorganizer #KOTSWisdom #KOTS #mentalillness #mentalhealthstigma #california #sb906 #peersupport #peerspecialist #peersupportspecialist #peeradvocatespecialist #mentalhealthpeerspecialist #mentalhealthadvocate #mentalhealthawareness #endstigma

#KOTS411 – African Coalition & LAC Dept of Mental Health host The Black Immigrant Youth Empowerment Event

Ages 18-25

Our partners at the African Communities Public Health Coalition (IG: @african_coalition) and the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health (IG: @lacdmh) are doing big things to #KnockOutTheStigma surrounding #mentalhealth in the #black and #blackimmigrant communities.

Pass the word…


Black Youth Empowerment Project


Saturday, August 25th
12pm – 3pm


Industry Cafe & Jazz
6039 Washington Blvd
Culver City, CA 90232

#KOTS #MentalHealth #BlackBoys #BlackMen

KOTS411 – Save the Date #STIGMACON2018 Announced

For immediate release:

✨✨Save the Date✨✨

Knock Out the Stigma, Inc. is pleased to announce a neighborhood collaboration of diverse service organizations to bring you STIGMA-CON 2018 an installment in the new Healthy Neighborhoods Well-Being Campaign Series being spearheaded by Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health’s West Central Mental Health Center located on Stocker Street in Los Angeles, California serving neighborhoods that include parts of South Central LA.

When: November 14th & 15th

#LosAngeles #STIGMACON2018 #mentalhealthawareness #wellbeing #communityempowerment #buildingbridges #stigma #stigmafree #endstigma #STIGMACON #KnockOutTheStigma around #mentalhealth #KOTS #KOTS411

What Is Your Keystone?

The ancient trade of stone masonery is one that demands precision and mastery of one’s craft in order to achieve an acceptable finished product. In many ways this is similar to the formula for success in our daily lives, the more we master our tools and apply them with precision to the circumstances that arise, the more acceptable we find our finished product. Here we have a stone arch which happens to be one of my favorite architectural elements. Stones are cut and fitted in such a way that they can be stacked to hold and support one another. In the design of this archway there is one stone that is absolutely critical to the strength and integrity of the entire structure, this special stone is called the keystone.

Without the keystone in place the arch will not hold its shape. All the other stones will tumble and fall to the ground. In our personal life journeys we each have lots of stones that make up our personal archway. One stone may represent our income from our job(s) or business(es). Another stone may be your intimate relationship. All the elements that make up our life represent one of our stones. However, each one of us has a keystone, that one thing that is critically essential to all the other stones staying in place and performing their proper functions.

If we look at a person who has recovered from an addiction as an example, that person’s keystone would likely be their sobriety. As long as their sobriety is in place all the other areas of their life are able to function. But, if that sobriety is removed it will likely impact a number of stones and perhaps cause the entire arch to crumble. It thus becomes of vital importance that someone with sobriety as their keystone acquire and master the tools necessary to maintain their sobriety in order to maintain all the other stones in their life. The same principle will apply no matter what you ultimately determine your keystone to be.


1) What is your keystone?

2) How many tools have you mastered to help support your keystone?

3) Do you know what you need from your partner, family, and friends to assist with maintaining your keystone?

“She said we can’t even be friends…” Why?

Recently, a friend of mine shared how excited he was that a new lady he fancied had showed him she also had romantic interest in him. He gleefully recounted how amazing everything had been on their first meet-up. He also shared that both of them were engaged in addiction recovery and the she was quite serious about her sobriety. A week went by and they had a second date, but the second report was the polar opposite of the amazing first date story from the week before. My friend shared he was surprised when she told him she was not able to begin a new relationship right now, that he understood, but she continued to tell him she also could not even be friends with him right now due to her needs to focus on herself and her recovery.

This was not what my buddy wanted to hear at all. In our conversation that day, he said, “I bet her sponsor told her that stuff.” The good thing is my friend was able to find peace in the end of his new fling, but still seemed troubled by the “why” of her decision.

All of the sudden one of my favorite lessons from “The Magic Story” came to mind and I told it to my buddy.

Keep your pack light

When making a steep climb or long hike – keep your pack light.

Life shows up. When it does we all at times make choices or encounter situations that knock us off our forward path of progress causing a slide in the opposite direction. Sometimes the slide down can be so far and so dramatic that we say that person has hit rock bottom.

Whether at rock bottom or just way off course, you have traveled a path downward far from your original starting point. You know the path back because you were the one that took the trip to the place you are now. But the way back is up and likely a steep and challenging climb. What advice would you give to someone who is about to embark on a wicked challenging climb? Of all the advice I have heard one of my favorites is, “keep your pack light.”

This simple advice is open to interpretation and is impacted by each person’s determination of what is essential to be placed in their “pack.” As demonstrated in the song “Bag Lady” by Erykah Badhu, she sings, “No one ever told you all you need is you.”

When commencing a recovery climb it becomes more challenging the more you are carrying. I shared this all with my friend and he smiled and nodded his head as he processed what I was saying. His lady friend most likely was at a point in her climb where she needed to keep her pack very light and in her assessment she didn’t even have room or the capacity to “carry” a new friend.

Smiling my friend said, I understand now.

What’s in your pack? Have you done an assessment lately of what you are carrying?