Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Thanks 2013, I Needed That!

As I reflect on 2013, and anticipate 2014, I am looking back in order to look ahead and become more aware of who I am by acknowledging who I was. I had initially planned on reflecting on all the events of 2013, but chose not to. But, instead I found a post I initially wrote this past summer, but for some reason never published. And yet, it seems very apropos for today. ~JB


Among the definitions of pride at Dictionary.com are these:
  1. a high or inordinate opinion of one's own dignity, importance, merit, or superiority, whether as cherished in the mind or as displayed in bearing, conduct, etc.
  2. the state or feeling of being proud.
  3. a becoming or dignified sense of what is due to oneself or one's position or character;   self-respect; self-esteem.
Looking at some of these definitions, or portions thereof, a proud person could be considered almost haughty. I guess it's how you carry yourself. 

After all, pride comes before the fall.

For many of us, Pride does come before the fall, in the summer. 

In June.

And we sometimes define it as a giant party.

I have attended various LGBTQ Pride events, on and off since coming out. I marched in the parade a couple of times before meeting my first partner and then, we would attend it and watch it together. But after a while, it became the same parade year after year. I mean, how many times can you watch hot young men dancing in their underwear (or less) to heart-stopping bass-thumping music on the bed of a flatbed truck?  What made the parades worthwhile were those community organizations that marched: Aids Project Los Angeles, The Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center, Gay Teachers of Los Angeles, Evangelicals Together, and Black and White Men Together were some of the community organizations that marched in the parades. Some of those groups are no longer appearing in the parades or have disbanded altogether. 

As LGBTQ visibility grew many major companies began having employee groups march in the parades.  Let's not kid ourselves, it was to show their acceptance so we would give them our business. After all, some gay couples allegedly have more disposable income as we don't have children to raise.

Stereotypes change, and same-sex couples are indeed raising children. But, I digress.
Group Shot!
Enough of the history lesson and back to the meaning of pride.

I marched in the parade this year.

I have been following both the National Office and Los Angeles Chapter of the Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network on Twitter, @glsen and @GLSENLosAngeles, respectively. When I saw a tweet asking for more marchers in the LA Pride Parade, I signed up.

7:00 Parade morning rolled around, ugh. But, I'm usually up anyway as my cat can't tell the difference between a work and non-work day.  I performed my morning rituals, and decided not to drive to  West Hollywood, as parking is a major headache on a regular day, and now with a gatrillion LGBTQ people storming the smallest city I know of with the seemingly most restrictive parking, finding a place to park would be a major migraine! So, I opted for public transport.

We've started moving! I'm carrying  their banner!
There were two reasons I decided to march this year. When my ex left, I could count my gay male friends without lifting a finger. Not even one. Our married life had left us somewhat reclusive due to budget cuts, the regular housework, the house and yard maintenance, the furry children and the sheer fatigue from teaching.  We had been members of a gay dance club, but when he began his coursework for his teaching credential, his time for dancing was limited, and even though I continued going, we eventually dropped out. And the people seemed to drop us. 

With no gay male friends, I lost touch with my gayself. What does it mean to gay? Other than the attraction to other men? Do I have to like Judy Garland songs? Or Lady Gaga? Katy Perry? Musical Theater? Must I go to brunch on Sundays? Or throw/attend lavish awards show parties?  I needed to find that community support, that community understanding, that community itself. I needed to expand my social circle. I needed to come back out.

Somewhere along the route!
I also needed that sense of pride from the community. Coming home to animals who love me is great, but they can't talk to me, reassuring me the bigots are wrong, they can't help me talk through rough times when I feel the pain of discrimination, of bigotry, of buried self-inflicted homophobia. I recall very clearly how proud I was, how loved I felt when I first stepped onto the parade route all those years ago. The energy this time was different. I still felt love, but maybe I was used to it after all these years. Maybe it was because I was older and no longer fresh out of the closet. I was about two years out last time, not thirty. Maybe the crowd was more used to the parades, since its inception in 1970.  

Maybe I just did it for my own sense of Pride.

JB- And, maybe I did it for my first steps in moving forward back into the community and into 2014! 

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Change is in the Air!

In my most recent posts, I've discussed some signs of change(s) possibly coming my way. To recap, right after I signed up on a spirituality focused dating site, I received the following signs:
  • a sign from a friend saying I was braver, stronger and smarter than I gave myself credit for;
  • a sign from the Squirrel totem to prepare for change, not once but twice in a row;
  • a sign from my subconscious saying my soul was ready to meet its mate;
  • a sign to learn to let things be when my car's check engine light suddenly went off after two days of being on, which suggests the problem seemed to correct itself;
  • a sign that, when I gravitated towards malachite from a group of six stones in a photograph, I was signaling the Universe what my deepest desire was and/or amplifying my current emotions. In New Age healing, malachite is a stone used to amplify the soul's deepest desire and current emotions. Uh-huh. Being that I have recently admitted I would like a relationship, I may have inadvertently set things in motion. Fine. What will be, will be. (Cue Doris Day!)
These many signs so close together certainly cannot be ignored.

And these many signs might mean a big change is on the way.

I went on to say that maybe the coming change might not necessarily be something normally associated with a big change, like career, romance or finances, and it could be either negative or positive. 

It's simply a change, I can't avoid it, just prepare for it, as Squirrel suggests, twice.

As 2013 comes to a close, and we embark on 2014, I feel positive. I do indeed sense a change is in the air. The economy is improving, (maybe I'll get a raise!), I'm more open to meeting guys (a potential boyfriend on the horizon?), I'm pushing myself to work on my next novel (a NY Times bestseller?), all of the above? (Let's not get crazy!)

Perhaps the change in question is just my attitude in general, which could lead to some of the other changes down the road. Let's just hope that when I return to teaching after winter recess, I can retain this positive attitude. 

But, just in case, I did buy a malachite stone. 
After all it does match my eyes.

Friday, December 27, 2013


It is said you should never judge someone until you've walked in their shoes. I say you should never judge anyone, period.

I prefer to believe you will never truly know someone until you have walked in their shoes or, at least, in a similar pair. After all, they may wear a different size than you.

I recently began seeing an openly-gay therapist, as opposed to a gay-affirmative one. Yes, there is a big difference, as a gay therapist has actually walked the walk and talked the talk needed to help their LGBTQI clients realize their full potential, and has actually experienced the same identification issues, bullying, shame and internalized homophobia the client may be confronting. That is, they walked in similar shoes.

As I have been dealing with putting myself back together following my divorce from my husband, some deep seated issues dealing with self-esteem and internalized homophobia surfaced, possibly stemming from issues around my family of origin, which prompted me to seek out a gay therapist.

I am happy with my decision.

He has challenged me to look deep into myself. Good. The other therapists did as well, but coming from his own gay perspective, he knew what questions to ask and how to ask them. Yet, I have pushed back challenging him. Good, I'm standing up for myself.

I recently shared my newest online adventure with him, stating I signed up for this spiritual dating site to meet friends and develop a social life. As best I can recall, our conversation went something like this:

     "Oh, come on, Jeff! You signed up on an online dating site just to meet platonic friends? Seriously? Admit it, you were looking for a relationship."
     "No, my initial decision to sign up stemmed from my realization I needed a life, I needed to meet men to start having that life that didn't revolve around my work, my house, and my sick aging cat. If a relationship did happen, fine; then, I'd explore the option. BUT, it was not my conscious reason for signing up. I'm not sure I'm ready for one."
     "Oh, I think you're ready. And, I think you were also looking for sex."
     "Perhaps, and yes, it would be nice to be held and touched again. But, I don't want to feel like a cheep whore afterward."
     "I mean there's always Craigslist, but why subject myself to possible physical, and emotional harm just to get off?"
     "You're absolutely right. I think you're very lonely."
     "For a boyfriend, just to have a boyfriend, no. For a social life with a circle of friends to hang out with somewhat regularly, absofuckinglutely."

We discussed strategies on how to achieve that last goal: bars/clubs-possibly, but not the ideal way due to the alcohol element; social organizations-better, but it can take time to break into the groups/cliques that are already in place; professional organizations- better, but then I'm still focused on work issues, another area of my life where I'm having major concerns.

We sat in silence for a moment, he was looking at me rather intently.
     "What are you thinking?"
     "I'm wondering what you're feeling, Jeff."
     "I'm overwhelmed."
     "I can imagine."
     "But, in a good way. I need to confront these feelings and answer these questions."
     "It's all positive. I'm exactly where I need to be."

So, he got me to admit/accept:
  1. I actually am lonely, but more for a social life than a boyfriend.
  2. I actually would like a relationship, (but I'm not settling for less than what I deserve).
  3. I actually would like a little 'action,' but nothing meaningless.
  4. I actually am in a good place.
And I believe it.

All of it.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Take A Chance on Me

I love ABBA, I admit it. I grew up in the disco era, and their music called to me! Maybe it was a foreshadowing of my time spent in the gay dance clubs? Who knows. One of my biggest regrets is not getting to see them in concert, but since they never toured North America, I can hardly find fault in that.

One of their earlier songs, Take a Chance on Me, (January 1978) comes to mind right now. It's a song between two people where one is asking the other to take a chance and consider him/her for a relationship. Sounds a bit like begging, I know. 

"If you're all alone when the pretty birds have flown, take a chance on me."

But, I'm seeing it in a different way.

I took a chance on myself. 

As I'd posted before, I signed up on an online spiritual dating site in spite of my feelings about online dating in general. I am learning to be 'in the moment' and that's what I did. I stated in my profile I was looking for friends first, as I believe the best long-term relationships start from a friendship and take time to grow into something more. But, men react to a physical attraction as well. So, how does this all play into my beliefs? I don't know, I'm so confused. 

Anyway, I took a chance and sent a message to a guy I found attractive.  There was something in his eyes I liked, and his profile sounded nice. An honesty. And he was handsome.

He replied saying he thought we had something in common and we agreed to meet within the week, then the date was postponed to the following weekend and now that gave me an extra week to build things up in my mind. A very bad habit I need to break. This became an opportunity for me to seriously force myself back into the present moment, and not think ahead.

We finally met, and we had a nice time walking and talking. We were relaxed with each other, very comfortable. I wasn't sensing any pretense on his part, nor was I consciously showing any. When it came time to part ways, I gave him a hug, and suggested we get together again. He agreed. 

Via email, we set up a second meeting or would this be an actual date? Was the first meeting an actual date? Or just a meeting to test the waters? I'm so confused. In my mind they both were dates. 

After our first meeting or date, my mind went into overdrive. I liked him, we were somewhat compatible, yet there were some things I knew could become challenges in anything long term. Maybe we were destined to be friends, only. I was still determined to learn to let it be.

Yet, on our first date while sitting on the park bench talking, I began thinking about things more physical. Yes, I admit it, I was entertaining nasty thoughts, while still thinking there's something missing here. How can I justify having those randy thoughts while suspecting he might not be THE ONE? I became even more determined to let it be and just be in the moment.

Our second date went well, he was willing to play it by ear as I had a service technician coming to my house sometime the morning of the second date. I'd call or text him when I'd be on my way. The technician arrived, finished his job and went on his way in the first hour of the time window the office quoted me. I sent an email suggesting we just meet at 1:00 at the restaurant and go from there. He agreed. What a great guy!

After meeting, having a nice lunch and another walk and talk, we parted ways. I suggested another date, a hike to a spot on a hill to take in some nature; he thought it would be a nice outing. 

All this time, I was determined to let things be, and just let the situation play itself out. The big step of what about the physical component of any relationship was weighing on my mind. Was I attracted to him enough to 'do it'? Did I want to because he was interested and therefore convenient?  What was this gnawing in my gut that something was off? 

Well, there won't be a third date, after all. It seems he doesn't feel we have enough of a 'connection'. He decided that, even though we have some things in common and are comfortable with each other, there's not enough of a connection to pursue anything more serious. I am very grateful for the opportunity to have met him, and appreciate his honesty. 

Yet, maybe there's enough of a connection for a platonic friendship, I suggested. But, even that felt like I was stretching things.

Maybe that was the gnawing in my gut, I wasn't feeling enough of a possible romantic connection.

I was drawn to him for a reason, now I need to find out why.

At the least, I took a chance on myself and stepped out a bit. And I enjoyed my time with him.

Maybe that's it. 

Keep taking chances on myself. 

At some point, it will pay off.
ABBA at the Mamma Mia movie premiere in Stockholm, Sweden.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Soul mate?

Lately, I've been blogging about signs of a big change coming my way. When we first think of change we often think of something physical: a new job, a new house, winning the lottery; or perhaps, we think of something emotional, a new relationship, or a shift in a current one.

What if the change is neither?

What if it's mental? Or spiritual?

I'm talking about, attitude. Some people view an attitude as the way you approach something, like a project or even, life.

Or, better yet, dating.

I had a shift in my attitude towards dating and signed up for a spiritual dating site and started chatting with a nice man and we made a date to meet. And then the signs started appearing. True to my past behaviors, I began suspecting the signs were telling me my soul mate was on the horizon. And I had a date a week later. Quelle coincidence! I had to rein myself in to keep from believing he was the ONE. The first man I chatted with on this new site. How fortunate could I be to meet him on the first weekend I'd signed up!

But, what is a soul mate? Many of us, myself included, believe a soul mate is the ONE person we're destined to spend the rest of our life with. Our one true love. The product of Hollywood movies, and literature. The ONE who understands us, the ONE who completes us.

I grew up a child of divorce, and vowed that would never happen to me. I would meet the woman of my dreams and we'd be together forever. Then, I came out, and believed I'd meet the man of my dreams and we'd be together forever.

I must say, neither of the two men I've had long term relationships with were the men of my dreams. But, I loved them just the same. Now, I've been widowed and divorced.

I've come to accept that relationships are vibrant living entities unto themselves. They grow and change as the people involved grow and change. What causes us to grow and change? Our circumstances, our paths, and many, many other factors.

I have come to believe everyone we meet, for however long, is a soul mate of some sort. What they bring to us, to our soul, determines how long they may be in our life. I no longer believe a soul mate is a permanent relationship, nor perhaps, even a romantic one.

The one true love that curls our toes when we see that person, when we hold that person's hand, when the lovemaking transcends the physical and becomes more spiritual is what some are calling our Twin Flame; the one who brings out the best in us, the one who is our complement, the one who never asks us to be something we are not.

According to Twin Flame theory, both people are simultaneously inspired and toppled by the power of the union. Sounds like you'll be thunderstruck when you meet your Twin. However, as humans still have and exercise free will, your Twin may choose not to act upon it. Or, you may not. The power can be so strong, it could even frighten people away which could be why Twin Flame relationships are so rare. Could something this good be true?

Or maybe even, am I good enough for this relationship? Am I worthy of something so wonderful?

If, as the signs tell me, something is changing in my life, and if, IF, my Twin Flame is on the horizon, it is my every intention to take it so slow, because

Yes, I am worth it.

Monday, December 9, 2013

More from Mother Mary

In my last post I had come to the realization I needed to really work on letting things be. 

I saw the benefit of that this week.

Wednesday morning halfway into my thirty mile drive to work through an uphill, unpopulated area of Los Angeles County, my check engine light came on. I have OnStar in my car, so I called and asked for an on demand diagnostic and the results came back that something in the cooling system wasn't working properly. I made it safely to work, and at an appropriate time I called my service advisor at the dealership. He thought it might be the thermostat. He also said it shouldn't be too big of a worry and if the car begins to overheat, I should turn on the heater. (!) Okay. I'll take his advice, crazy as it sounds.

When I left school that afternoon, the light was still on and stayed on all the nerve-wracking way home. I had been thinking about taking the metro in to work for a while, and now seemed like the perfect opportunity to try it out. So, I timed out the train schedules, and adjusted my alarm clock accordingly. I was now getting up half an hour earlier and leaving the house forty-five minutes sooner than I was used to.

The engine light was on all the way to the station and I made the transfers with minimal waiting time. The return trip was also successful and actually made it home around the same time as I was used to. My cat was happy.

Friday was a repeat of Thursday as I had decided to make this a more regular thing to save wear and tear on my aging car. However, on the way home from the station that afternoon, the glaring amber check engine light went off! I called OnStar and explained to the technician what happened, asked for a new on demand diagnostic, and it came back clean. Nothing seemed to be working improperly! My car had healed itself! I checked with my service advisor about mechanical miracles and he said it sometimes does happen. I asked if I should still bring it in and he said, I kid you not, "Let it be."

My first reaction was to take the car in and repair it, something I could not afford to do, either financially or time-wise. But, I need to get to work. There's still the metro.

Continuing on, yet in a slightly different thread, I am still receiving messages that something big is about to happen in my life. I was scrolling on Facebook and a post caught my eye. "Which of these stones do you prefer?" was the headline. I tapped it, and scanned the six stones and made my choice; the pretty green one to match my eyes! I glanced at the text below the picture and was directed to read the paragraphs associated with stone #2, the one I chose, green malachite. 

It seems, according to some, that the ancient properties associated with malachite is that it is not to be used in healing rituals as it is a mirror of the soul. If the person wearing it is in a negative mood, the malachite will magnify it, and likewise for someone in a positive mood. The paragraph went on to say that malachite has been thought to be a megaphone for what the user is feeling or thinking and then projecting those emotions or thoughts into the Universe. It also has been used in helping balance the heart chakra and assisting the wearer in cleansing emotional impurities around relationships. Interesting.

Now, do I believe a stone can do this? Not necessarily, but I don't disbelieve either. I believe it may be something to anchor the mind and let the mind actually begin to heal the body and spirit and then put the energy out there for the Universe to pick up on. Do I have any malachite lying around? No, but I do have amethysts as it is my birthstone and it's purple, one of my favorite colors. Am I going to run to the nearest psychic book store for a malachite stone, maybe. I just like the stone. The fact that I may use it to focus my positive energy and overcome the negative energies I've been feeling lately may simply be a byproduct. Besides, it's a pretty shade of green. 

Yesterday, I opened my Animal Messages app, cleared my mind and asked for general advice and selected a card. Squirrel again! This is twice in a row I've been told to prepare for big changes!

So, I've been told I'm braver, stronger, and smarter than I give myself credit for, that I seriously need to prepare for big changes, my subconscious woke me up with thought, "when the soul is ready..." which I finished with "he will appear", I have been validated to just let things be, I gravitated toward a stone that will magnify my thoughts and feelings to the Universe as well as balance my heart chakra. Is all of this a bit much? Am I over-reading the signs? Have I gone wacko?

The biggest and possibly strangest coincidence in all this is that these signs all appeared after I began chatting with a guy online and we decided to meet.

Maybe the signs were there all along, and they're only coming into focus because I have this date. 

I'm just going to let it be.

But, a little malachite couldn't hurt.

Besides, it matches my eyes.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Messages, Moments and Mother Mary

Very often we get messages from our Higher Power, whether we call it God, the Universe, or something else. And very often the difficulty or confusion for us lies in the fact we do not pay attention to them.

Or, we over analyze them.

I've been paying more attention to my instinct lately. I realized I needed to start living my life, or at least having one. I've also been trying to live more in the moment and act accordingly. I've opened myself up to being more receptive to dating and joined a more spiritual dating community.

I've been getting some messages lately, confirming I've done the right thing.

One of the first signs I received after making this decision, came from a friend, and this sign reminded me I often sell myself short. So, in this new phase of my life, this is to remind me I can handle what ever happens. I am in control of myself.

I also like to use different sources for daily meditative thoughts and affirmations. I also like to tune in to messages from animal totems. I have an app that has different messages on virtual cards picturing different animals and their messages, comparable to a tarot deck. Sometimes I will use one of the messages as a meditation for the day. The day after I received the above sign, I opened the app, cleared my mind, and randomly selected a card.

I drew the Squirrel card.

And Squirrel's message is: PREPARATION-Get ready for big changes. As the squirrel anticipates the changes of winter, he prepares and gets everything ready and in place. For me, this change could mean a new job (not likely in the middle of a school year), a new relationship (possible, but I'm not holding my breath especially so soon after deciding to be more active) or a major move (again, not likely). While I can't anticipate what change is coming, I can prepare my mind to be open to the nuances of the change itself. With change comes the potential for worry, which in turn makes the change a lot harder. I need to rely on family and friends for support during this time. And, above all, I need to BREATHE.

This morning, three hours before my alarm was to go off, I woke up to this thought stampeding through my head: "When the soul is ready..." and that was it. That was the entire thought that disturbed my sleep. Yet, I immediately finished the thought with the words "he will appear." It was automatic, a knee-jerk reaction in the daze of interrupted sleep. It all sounded so familiar, but where had I heard it before? I'd actually read it in an article on soul mates.

Is this the change that is coming? Will my soul mate soon appear? Has the Universe decided I am ready whether I think I am or not?

Time will tell....

So, the messages are telling me:
  • I'm braver, smarter and stronger than I give myself credit for; 
  • a change is coming, so I need to prepare my mind (and my heart), rely on others for support and not worry about it; 
  • and my soul is ready to meet a possible soul mate, at least according to my subconscious, which woke me up to tell me this. 
Trouble is, I've over analyzed messages before.

As, I'm working on just being in the moment, and following my instinct as I open myself up to the possibilities of dating, I will follow those words of wisdom from Mother Mary,

Let it be.
To read the article on the Soul Mates, click on this link.