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Archive for April, 2012

I suppose that life can be summed up in many different ways for many different people.  I also suppose that most of us go through life trying the best with can with what we’ve been given.

I have a wonderful, sweet friend in her late 20’s who seems to believe that the life she’s living now isn’t exactly what it is she’s supposed to be doing. She loves her job, and she’s wonderful at what she does, but… it’s not what she wants to be doing. Who among us in our 50’s or 60’s was doing what we were supposed to be doing in our late 20’s? Do I have a show of hands?

When I was in my late 20’s, I was still living my life as a straight, married, family girl.  As we all know – this was not the life I was supposed to be living, and yet – I wasted another 30 years before I had the courage to stand on my own and live my life.

Well, perhaps the word wasted is a little strong – perhaps I should say; frittered away – No, I really should say wasted, for that’s exactly what those years were; wasted. Not just for me, but for a lot of other people who were wrapped up in my little straight fantasy! I didn’t have the courage or the strength and support of family to live my life.  So, I lived the life that everyone wanted me to have.

My sweet friend has so much more going for her in her late 20’s, and has accomplished more  than I ever believed was possible in my life, at that age. She’s got a great job with mega responsibility, she’s strong, sweet, loving, smart and living her life openly with the love and support of her family and friends. I only wish she knew how lucky she is and how blessed her life really is.  I believe she does, I just want her to really know how blessed she is.

Yes, I do know how important the whole career thing is, and I know we all are meant to be doing something – but… in between the jobs and the promotions and the stress and the anxiety – what is it you have?  You have your life. Your life, the one you’re meant to be living.

I don’t want to see my sweet friend waste any of her time. Life is short and who’s to say how many chances we get to live the life we were meant to live.  Yes, it may be hard, and yes, it may go against the grain of the people who believe they know what’s best for you. The reality is – most people don’t know what is best for you, they just want some sort of control over you – at least this has been my experience with the people in my life who seemed to delight in running my life for me, and who still spend their time thinking of ways to come between me and this life of mine.

The bottom line is – only you know what is best for you. Only you know who you are – and only you can make the wonder that is your life fall into place. What’s best for you may be one thing in your 20’s and something completely different in your 40’s.  Go with it – follow your path.

It’s never too late to change course, it’s never too late to get an education, and it’s never too late to start over.  As long as you are willing to do the work, your life can always, always be changed.  It’s never too late to walk away from a situation that is unhealthy for you – as long as you have hope, and desire and passion for something new, it’s never, ever too late.

I’ve told my sweet friend all of this, and I wanted to write it for her so on days when she feels trapped, she’ll know that she isn’t.  The thing to remember is that sometimes simply living your life is what you’re meant to be doing.  No demands on yourself, no pressure to achieve any out of reach goals – just simply living your life with the person you love, and your friends and if you’re blessed, a family who loves and supports you.

By the time you hit your 60s you’ll be wishing you had spent more time nurturing those friendships and more time lying next to the love of your life just being silent.

I’ll go with my favorite quote from the movie “The Way” when the son wants his father to travel with him, and the father tells him he can’t because he chose his life as an Ophthalmologist.  The son looks at his father and says: “You don’t choose a life Dad, you live one.”

Live your life, my sweet friend… It’s my belief that the life you are meant to live will choose you – you just have to be ready for it ♥

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There is a young man in his 20’s that has a son who is 5. He was watching his 5-year-old play baseball and noticed another little boy running around in a “No Fat Chicks” t-shirt. Instead of questioning the intelligence of the parent who purchased and allowed this little boy to wear such a t-shirt – this 20 something Father high-fived the little boy for his choice of t-shirts. I’m sure if he could have found the “No Fat Chicks” Father there would have been high-fives, fist bumps, and other displays of man bonding rituals for the 5 year olds to watch and learn from.

What chance does this young man’s son have of being raised with manners and respect for women? No chance in hell would be the correct answer, for it’s obvious that the 20-something father has no respect for women, and certainly no manners. This begs the questions: Where was this 20-something man’s Father? And why wasn’t this 20-something man taught respect for women and perhaps just a few manners? Do men no get this or do they not care? Yes, I’m aware that it’s not all men, for there are sweet, gentle, loving men who teach their sons that women are to be respected and cherished, and treated as equals.   The thing is – in my life – I can count those kind of men within the confines of my ten fingers!

What I see are generations of men who never seem to grow past the age of 12.  Men who raise little boys to believe that women are theirs for the taking, to use and discard and have no regard or respect for in any way. If you get tired of one, there’s always another to take their place. Just remember son; “No Fat Chicks.”

I don’t understand men. I’m sorry, I just don’t. I don’t dislike men, I just don’t understand them. Perhaps if I had to lug around the “package” and my entire life was based around making sure the “package” was functioning at its optimum ability 24/7, I might be a little more understanding. I don’t know, I’m just guessing.

Then again – I don’t understand women who think they must have a man in their life to make their life complete. Again – I don’t dislike those women – I just don’t understand them. You’re married to one man, he leaves you, you’re devastated, and your life is over. Two months later you’re living with another man and your life is once again perfect, you’re in love and all is right with the world. Can you really fall in and out of love in two months? I know I can’t, I’m just asking if it’s possible.

It’s my belief that we all must be comfortable with who we are when we’re alone.  You have to be able to spend time with yourself and be content and happy and fulfilled in order to be able to be happy and content and fulfilled with someone else. If you expect someone else to fill up your life, your life will never, ever be filled.

It’s also my belief that we must teach our children respect. Respect for each other, respect for the earth, respect for animals, and mostly; respect for themselves. Sadly our government is showing absolutely no respect for women, so why would be surprised that men are feeling even more empowered than usual, and passing that on to their sons. So, our sons learn from their fathers and from their fathers and from their fathers.

Test yourself.  If you had a five-year old son, would you allow him to wear any of the following?  And if that was you little boy flipping off the camera and wearing the “Peanutbutter Motherfucker” t-shirt, how proud would you be?  I’m just asking…

 

 

 

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When the first season of the television show Who Do You Think You Are aired, I totally got involved in finding out about my ancestors.  My father was thrilled with the things that we found about his family. The Hamp family. I’ll admit that I became obsessed, searching websites and documents when I should have been sleeping and working.

We’re into Season Three of the television show, my father has passed away, and still I search. I’m not exactly sure what or who it is I’m looking for, or why I’m so hell-bent on finding it or them. Something or someone pushes me on, and so on I go.

My brother sent me a box filled with documents and photos – a treasure trove for the searching soul. In this box, I discovered my great-uncle; Benjamin Franklin Hamp. There was a picture of Benjamin Franklin Hamp in this box, and if you take your finger and cover his mouth on this picture – the face you will see looking at you – is mine.

The search for one, Benjamin Franklin Hamp began immediately, with the best information coming from a letter in that treasure trove box from my brother. This letter, dated May 31, 1988, was written by Benjamin’s son, John, who at the time was searching for family history.  In this letter I discovered that Benjamin’s Mother (whose name ironically was Barbara Hamp) died either at childbirth or shortly thereafter.  There is a paragraph in this letter that just tears at my heart.  It reads as follows:   “B. F. Hamp (my Father) was put in an orphanage when his Mother died and remained there until the age of twelve.  At which time he was placed into the hands of a farmer. He was then to work for the farmer until he reached 21 years of age. The farmer would then give him a suit of clothes and $100 and he would be released from his bondage. The farmer who took him was very cruel.  In due time, my father ran away and for a few years after that he worked for another farmer.”

I’m still trying to wrap my head around the fact that my Great Uncle was – well – a slave. I never, ever imagined such a scenario in my family.

This picture I have of Benjamin shows him with his Father – my Great Grandfather Emanuel – when Benjamin was probably around 12. So – if he could see his father – why was he living in bondage on that farm?  Why wasn’t he with his / my family?

I know I can never find all the answers, and I don’t even know what having all the answers would do for me. I mean, I can’t even answer questions about some of the decisions I’ve made in my own life, let alone try to figure out why decisions were made in the 1800’s.

Still – there is a part of me that aches for that little boy in whose face I see my own. There is a connection I feel with this boy – this man – my Great Uncle Benjamin Franklin Hamp.  Born February 8, 1878 to a woman who never got to hold him or see him or watch him grow.  A woman who name was:  Barbara Hamp. The whole thing gives me chills…

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It was Thomas Wolfe who told us;   “You can’t go back home to your family, back home to your childhood, back home to romantic love, back home to a young man’s dreams of glory and fame… back home to someone who can help you, save you, ease the burden for you, back home to the old forms and systems of things which once seemed everlasting but which are changing all the time – back home to the escapes of Time and Memory.”

And yet, it’s back home we all go from time to time. Whether it’s physically or emotionally, we all travel to that place we once called home, that place where we grew up, that place that shaped who we are now.

I find going home a mixed blessing. I’m glad to be there and see that not too much has changed, and yet I find I’m glad I don’t live there because not too much has changed.

In reality, I’m the one who has done the changing. I used to look at the boundaries of this town as a prison; a straight, republican, evangelical prison. Now that I’ve escaped from the prison, I just see a cute little town where people tend to live in the past and don’t really like change all that much. I drive through, I take some pictures and I go to the snack bar that’s been in business for as long as I can remember and get myself a cheeseburger sub and a chocolate shake that both push the bounds of wonderfulness. I sit at one of the picnic tables at the snack bar, eat my sub, and watch the traffic go by remembering, with affection, the days of my youth sitting in the same spot, eating a cheeseburger sub.

I can now see this little town for what it is.  It’s not my home anymore – it’s the place I grew up, and it’s the place where most of my biological family have always lived and are still living. Most of this family is comfortable there – it’s what they know – it’s all they want to know. I used to wonder why they didn’t want more from their lives until I finally understand that it’s not my place to wonder – it’s not my life.

This reality came to me while watching the movie “The Way.”  The Father (Martin Sheen) tells his son (Emilio Estevez) that he was living the life he chose and the son looks at his Father and says:  “You don’t choose a life Dad – You live one.”  This line touched my soul, for there were decades that I wasn’t living my life.  I had chosen a life searching for approval that would never come, and trying to be someone I could never, ever be. I started living my life when I came out, and I’ve been living it ever since. This is simply – My Life.

When I go to this little town in a week, it will be the first time I’m not going back angry or hurt or wanting to settle a score of some kind. It just doesn’t matter anymore. At 60, I honestly don’t care what the people in that little town think of me.  You don’t want to talk to me because I’m a Lesbian (and you must whisper the word – Lesbian)? Then don’t talk to me.  You don’t want to talk to me because of some dumb-ass rumor or gossip? That works for me, don’t talk. Life is just too short.

Wanting to go “home” is overrated.  It’s my experience that we all carry our “home” within us. We tend to make our lives far more complicated than need be. The simple fact is this:  If we believe something to be so – it is.

Go and live your life.

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