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Posts Tagged ‘kindness’

For far too many reasons; some I understand, some I do not…  I am not a Holiday person.

I have great memories of Holidays spent with cousins, Aunts, Uncles, Mother, Dad, a brother, sharing food and laughter and traditions that were so much a part of who we were, who are family was.

But now, Mother and Dad are gone, my brother and I most of the time, do not speak, most of those Aunts and Uncles are long gone, and many of those cousins with whom I would play capture the flag in a pitch-black basement and with whom I would share hugs and laughter, would rather not share any space with me, because I’m gay and they are “Christian” and in their hearts and minds, the two do not mix.

And so, I am left with no family tradition, for basically, there is no “family” with which to share it. There are moments when the loss of these things overwhelms me (watching It’s a Wonderful Life, singing Silent Night, etc.) and I find myself wiping tears away and wondering what we all wonder when things and people are lost from our lives. How did things get so crazy? Why is family not family anymore? How do you spend half of your life with these people, and then not see them or speak to them for the other half of your life?

And then I understand: These feelings? This is just life.  I know I could have never become this grown-up person I am had I not left the confines of that small town and broke the hold my conservative family had on me. We don’t share the same values, we don’t value the same lives, we don’t agree on politics, we don’t really agree on much of anything. I’ve learned to be grateful for the memories, and for those people who helped me grow and loved me as best they could.

For many, myself included, the Holidays are memories of simpler times – not always better times, but certainly simpler times. From what I see, there’s way too much pressure on making the holidays perfect – perfect decorations, perfect food, perfect gifts, perfect, perfect, perfect.

None of us are perfect, no holiday will ever be, or should ever have to be, perfect.  Susan and I love our time with the kids and the grand kids. Our beautiful tree sits in the corner and puts a magical glow over the living room, but perfect would never even enter the conversation. We take the holidays one day at a time and enjoy whatever that day brings us. Just being with her, well that’s all the holiday I need in my life.

Embrace whatever you must to get you through these weeks. If you watch the movies and listen to the music, let yourself go to those places that make you cry. It proves that you’re human, it proves that you’ve grown and become stronger.  It shows that you’ve made a life of your own, but you also remember from where you came.

Say Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays or just smile and say nothing. There are no rules to follow for getting through the emotions and memories that always find their way to your heart.

And as you go into 2017, remember to sprinkle kindness wherever and whenever you can. The world is going to need kindness.  Bigly…

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Saturday, July 16, 2016 was the annual San Diego Pride Parade – or as it’s known at our house – Reaffirmation Day!

Pride Parades are always a day filled with joy and love. It’s a day of singing and hugging and making new friends, and letting my soul be renewed in its gayness as I touch that big gay flag at the end of the parade.

But this year – this year was different.

This year it wasn’t just those of us watching that needed to be there. Those who were walking in the parade needed to be there also. They needed their souls to be renewed, they needed to be seen, they needed to be loved. It was like nothing I had ever seen before.

I had a San Diego Police Officer come over to me and take my hands and in hers and thank me for being there, for supporting them. Seriously? Through tears I told this woman: “No, thank you for being here for us.” There was a hug – and then she was gone.  My heart was just full.

There were over a hundred people marching under the Qualcomm banner. Cheering and waving with smiles of pure joy on their faces.

Walmart, HP, Bank of America, Wells Fargo Bank, The San Diego Padres, Harrah’s all there – all marching – all waving, all proud to be human beings not being judged or in fear of losing their jobs.

A high school marching band made up of gay kids from schools all over the county – marching and basking in the glow of the roar of the crowd as they passed by.  No fear of rejection or bullying or condemnation. Just love – lots of love.

Military personal – Army, Navy, Marines, Airforce, Coast Guard – all under the American flag, all walking tall and proud with some tears streaming down their faces.

Police, Firefighters, Sheriffs, Highway Patrol – all walking, riding, waving, hugging, smiling – all joyful.

Almost 4 hours of churches, businesses, politicians, community services walking, waving, singing, hugging, laughing, loving…

This is what happens when no one is forced to hide. This joy is what happens when people are accepted for who they are. This love is what happens when there is no fear of rejection, no thought of discrimination, no laws that divide us one from the other.

Whatever your political leanings may be, I simply ask that before you tick any box this November – you think about what can happen when people come together in love and the knowledge and acceptance that we are our brother’s keepers. It’s not about black or white or Hispanic or whatever ethnicity you may be. It’s not about being a Christian or Muslim or Jewish or whatever religion you may or may not follow. It’s not about gay or straight or transgendered. It’s not about men and women. It’s about the human race. It’s about all of us sharing this life we are blessed to be living.

Your thoughts should not be about hate and walls and guns and laws that divide us one from the other. Your thoughts should be about what you can do to unite us as a people, what you can do to make things better for you, for your neighbor, what you can do to stop discrimination, what you can do make peace in your family, in your community, in your own life.

For me, my peace is grabbing that big gay flag at the end of the parade. That’s where I promise myself to never look back, to never go back, to never settle, to help where I can, to hug and love and keep talking and writing until I’m no longer able to do so.

And grabbing that big gay flag is about love. My love for Susan, for my kids, for my grand kids, for my brother, my nephews and their wives and their families. For my friends, who are also my family, I want the world to be kind to them, I want them to grow up in a world where they are free to be whoever it is they are. Not who or what the world thinks they should be – but who they are.

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There is this perceived notion that we always have to be happy – that we always have to be up and smiling – that we have to show the world that all is bright and cherry in our world.

The thing is – we are not always happy – and the sun isn’t always shining in our lives – and sometimes just sometimes – there is not one ounce of cheer to be found – anywhere…

And you know what? That’s okay – you’re okay.

Life isn’t always happy. Sometimes life is quite complicated and happiness isn’t on the list of priorities we have. Sometimes our priorities are simply to get from day-to-day or hour to hour or moment to moment.

We don’t always wake up bathed in sunshine hearing the birds singing their sweet little tunes.  Sometimes – well – sometimes we just don’t hear the birds singing – anywhere.

That’s okay – You’re okay.

We don’t have to always feel inspired or always feel that we have the answers to everything in the Universe. We all have our dark sides – we’re all human. No one person can be happy and confident and inspired all the time. It’s the darkness that sometimes leads to the most brilliant sunshine.

The trick is to take the good with the bad – feel however it is you’re feeling – talk about how you’re feeling, write about how you’re feeling; cry, laugh, scream, whatever you need to do. And then you need to move on.  And by move on I mean really let whatever it is go.

If 10, 20 or even 30 years down the road finds you still talking about something – you haven’t let it go. You’ve actually let whatever “it” is run your life for all those years.  Let. It. Go.

Mostly – just be gentle with yourself.  Understand that you’re human and life isn’t always about what’s right in the world – life is sometimes all about the messy bits.

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I asked Susan this question this morning while we were enjoying some quiet time in front of our beautiful Christmas tree.  I asked her: “Why can’t we just let people be?”

And now I ask all of you: “Why can’t we just let people be?”

I ask because I don’t understand the whole judging people by what they believe or don’t believe thing.

Why do we care if a person believes in the little baby Jesus or if they don’t? Why do we care if a person believes they hear and see loved ones who have passed on? Why do we care if someone lights a menorah or prays to Allah or believes in absolutely nothing?

Unless any of these beliefs affect your life in any way – why on earth do you care what another person believes in? And why on earth would you make them feel less-than because they have such beliefs?

Who’s to say you’re right and they’re wrong?  Seriously?

To me – it just comes off as annoying arrogance when someone tells me that what I believe is wrong – how do they know? And more to the point – why do they care?

Does my belief in the paranormal affect your life in any way?  Does it interfere with your daily day to day living? Does it have any bearing on what you believe?

If you don’t believe in something – fine – don’t believe. But – don’t think that because you don’t believe you have the right to judge and mock those who do.  Be silent and just let them be…

Do we mock and judge others because we are insecure in what we believe?  Or do we mock and judge because we believe we are smarter which somehow gives us some sort of judgmental rite of passage?

Whatever the case – we just need to let people be…

When you find yourself wondering why someone believes in something you don’t understand – don’t judge them – just let them be…

And when you have the urge to tell someone you think their belief system is all wrong – be silent and just let them be…

We don’t know what another person faces from day to day. We don’t know unless we are living their life – you can’t judge what you don’t know – and really – what give you the right to judge?

You don’t have to agree with someone in all areas of their life to support them and love them and encourage them.

Love them for who they are – and just let them be… If you want to change them – you don’t really love them for who they are – it’s not about who you want them to be – it’s about who they are…

Just let them be…

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I recently read this Native American tale that tells the story of a young boy speaking with his grandfather.

One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people.He said, “My son, the battle is between two wolves inside us all. “One is Evil – It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.“The other is Good – It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.”The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather: “Which wolf wins?”The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

It’s easy to feed the Evil Wolf – Blame everyone in your life for your troubles –that way you don’t have to take any responsibility for anything you’ve said or done because – well – it’s not your fault – it’s the way you were raised, or taught, treated or whatever excuse you can make others believe is responsible for your behavior.  You can be this arrogant, rude, unkind person who skips through life unaware of the hurt and despair you’ve let in your wake.  You’re unaware – because you don’t care. Why should you – it’s not your fault.

The Evil Wolf is the easy way out. It’s simple, it takes no thought, and certainly allows you to hold onto old hurts, self-pity, anger and grudges for as long as you like – it’s what I call wallowing…

I will admit to feeding this wolf many years ago…

The Good Wolf – well – that takes some work. Joy, peace, hope, humility, kindness, generosity, truth, compassion… these things involve others – and emotions and a sense of belonging.  This means you have to show up – emotionally and physically.

Serenity comes only when our soul is untroubled and at peace. And we are only untroubled and at peace when our lives are lived for the common good.  At least – this is what I have learned about my life.

I’m not saying the Evil Wolf never gets fed – I’m saying I try and keep it to a few hors d’oeuvres every now and then – because well – I’m only human.

The Good Wolf is the one I try and feed on a daily basis.  Love, Hope, Compassion – these bring me Joy. I don’t want anger, envy, jealousy, regret, resentment or ego in my life. Why would anyone?

These wolves – This good and evil – It’s a choice we all must make in our lives. At some point, we all have to look around and realize that the common denominator in all of our tails of woe is – you/me. And the common denominator in our tales of happiness? It’s also you/me.   It’s our choice – it’s our life.

So… Which Wolf Do You Feed?

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Perhaps the answers to life lie in not where we’re going, but where we have been. And maybe not so much where we have been, but who was there with us – who traveled the road with us. Who ran us off the road, who walked beside us, who helped us find the short-cuts, and who was reading the map along the way.

Now that I’m in my 60’s, I understand that our lives are touched in some way by all the people who have come in and out of our lives. If only for a moment or a day or years – our lives are somehow changed by every encounter we’ve ever had.

Every path –every person – every opinion – every compliment – every criticism – every love – every hurt – every laugh – every tear – every little thing and every single person has brought us to this very moment in time.

We may have been shaped by where we grew up and who are families were, but as we grew up and faced the world on our own – the decisions we had to make were ours. At the moment we were making these decisions, we may have thought we didn’t have a choice – but – even if you did not make a decision – that was your choice – your decision was not to decide. We have to own our decisions – at some point we need to take responsibility for our lives.

I believe we spend way too much time finding a way to blame our parents or our siblings or our friends or religion or politics or whatever you can think of for our lot in life.  The simple truth is – we are responsible for our lives – we are responsible for our happiness.  It’s up to each of us to make ourselves happy. No one else can possible be responsible for that – no one.

I also believe we spend far too much time trying to figure out what makes us happy and we miss out on just being happy.  Life isn’t about what you have – it’s about who you are.

I read a book recently that made me understand that every day we can choose to go one way or the other. To go with the good or not go with the good. To go away from things like anger, hate, war, evil, prejudice – or – we can choose to go toward them. The choice is ours to make.

Whichever you choose to go toward – that is who you become.  If you fill your life with anger and greed and hate and unrest – then it’s inevitable that you become this person – angry, arrogant, hateful, resentful, blaming, bitter…

On the other hand – go toward the good – and this is the person you become. Nonjudgmental, loving, understanding, giving, compassionate, happy, content.

It may sound easy – this going toward the good – but during the course of a day we can slip toward anger in the blink of an eye. Someone pulls in front of you on the freeway and you have to slam on your brakes to keep from hitting them – going toward anger happens before you even blink your eyes! Someone’s teasing feels more like being bullied, someone pushes your buttons simply to get an angry reaction from you, and someone plays games with your heart…

It is the wise choice – this going toward the good – but it’s not always the easy choice. Choose wisely.

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When I started writing my first blog I had no idea what I was doing. I just started writing because I needed to vent. There was no method – there was no point – other than me writing down how I felt. It was therapy and the more I did it – the more I enjoyed it – and the more I started to feel better about who I was.

Writing changed my life. I was in a pretty dark place when I started writing. The more I wrote about the darkness the lighter my world became.  The more I let things go, the easier my journey became.  My bitching and complaining became embracing and rejoicing.

Then somehow my writing became about how many people were reading and commenting and tweeting and retweeting and liking and sharing.   When no one would comment I started to think I wasn’t writing well and wondering what I was doing wrong.  I started writing what I thought people would want to hear, and I started questioning my writing ability and wondering how I could change to get more likes, more hits, more followers…

This is so not who I am. So – I’ve decided to go back to the beginning – Back to where it’s just me and my laptop having some therapy time. Back to writing about what matters most to me – back to not concerning myself with the numbers but concerning myself more that the content comes from my heart –

I don’t know if this happens to you; But I most certainly got too wrapped up in getting validation from others that I am indeed good and kind and thoughtful and all those others things that puffed me up!

I’m just going to try and be good and kind and thoughtful every day, and not really worry that others might not know that.  I will know that I’ve tried my best and that I don’t need likes, shares, tweets and comments to validate who I am.

Don’t get me wrong – I love when people read and I’ve helped them or they feel better or they see something from a different point of view – I’m just choosing to not let their comments or lack of comments define who I am. I just need to write – that’s all.

So – those of you who are reading this – I thank you – genuinely thank you – for taking the time.  I know you have a million other things to do – and I appreciate that you spent just a little time with me.

Remember – you don’t need others to validate who you are – look in the mirror and smile at that face looking back at you.  Be kind to yourself and to others.

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