Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Synchronicities 8

I seem to be suffering from synchronicity overload. 

So many multiples,
so many receipts
I still see them on license plates, billboards, receipts, address plaques in amusement parks, etc. It seems lately they’ve been appearing more than before. 

One evening, on the way home from an appointment, I stopped for dinner as I was getting hungry and had nothing prepared or could quickly prepare when I got home. The meal itself was uneventful maybe because I was dining alone. It wasn’t until I got the receipts that I nearly fell off my stool. The table number matched the amount of tax on the meal which also happened to be the first three numbers of the credit card approval number, which coincidentally was my birthday. What are the odds? I mean that can’t be a simple coincidence, can it?

I thought not.

From a shipping label
And yet, what can it mean?

As I turn to a few numerological references, there is an overall theme that simply lets me know the changes I’m experiencing are indeed for my greater good. Okay, so they are simple affirmations I’m on the right path. I’ll take that. 

And just when I’m getting comfortable with the patterns I’m seeing, they shift. I guess the Universe likes to keep me on my toes.

Initially, I was seeing multiples of the same number; 1111, 333, 55555, etc.

Then I started noticing the repeating patterns of two digits, mostly two 3s and a 1, or two 1s and two 7s.
I just looked up, and there they were!

And now they’re shifting again. 

Now, I’m seeing different combinations of the same three digits, e.g. 742 and 427. I seem them in rapid succession, or even side by side. I know the skeptics will be saying I’m looking for them, but I assure you I don’t. You are entitled to your belief, my conscience is clear.

I see them mostly on license plates in parking lots or occasionally on cars on either side of me on the freeway. (I do have to keep my eyes on the road, so if I’m meant to see something, it will be obvious.)

Then there are these other kinds of synchronicities.

As I am trying to make sense of this path I’m walking, or trying to walk, questions form in my mind and an article will appear with some answers. It's like asking for guidance and then getting an answer. I view this as a sign that the Universe wants me to keep going on, even if it is difficult and often painful. I'll be fine in the end.

Or, a song comes on the radio at a particular time which may have some significance to me. Recently, while driving to meet some friends for lunch, I was listening to an 80s radio station. I recognized the beginning notes as a song came on and I glanced at the clock, it was 1:11, which I took to mean there was something in this song that the Universe wanted me to pay attention to. The song ended and a notification came through on my phone at 1:11! (Now, I do keep my car clock ahead a few minutes so I have a cushion of time. So, even though it really wasn't 1:11 by my car's clock, just seeing the three 1s themselves was significant.) So, this song was sandwiched by 111s. The song itself was the story of a man telling his significant other that even though they were separated by distance and circumstances, he would be “forever yours, faithfully.”

Was the Universe telling me something with this song? Only time will tell. 

In the meantime, I will simply take them all in stride, be grateful for them and accept the blessings I receive from the Universe.

That’s all I can do.

Sunday, December 17, 2017


I have come to believe that everything I've gone through has led me to where I am. 

For example, I have a beautiful home and a comfortable life thanks to circumstances from my past.

I also believe that the emotional experiences I've had, both positive and negative, have also shaped me into who I am.

But now at this stage in my life, I ask myself, "Who am I?"

In order to survive some of the emotional pain from my past, I did what I felt I had to do.

I was taught men hide their emotions, yet I am highly sensitive to others' suffering. I often found myself at odds with those teachings. When I saw someone suffering and I got upset, I was told to “Man up, be strong.” So, I became indifferent. Superficially, at least. I was a man, I couldn’t feel. 

I grew up in a very racially prejudiced and misogynistic household. I was told what to think about other ethnic groups and women. But, deep down I knew those thoughts were wrong. But, I also knew expressing myself in that household was not the best thing to do. Fortunately, my mother shared the same views I did, so that was some solace. But, not enough. I knew certain words were wrong to say, yet I heard them in my house. I questioned the path history had taken and wondered why God had allowed it to be so. I was told to be quiet and don’t ask questions. It was all His will. I learned not to express myself or to question authority.

I later found some peace in the evangelical church, yet I still felt empty. I tried hard to live the teachings of the church, but had too many questions about those teachings and saw too many holes in the historical timeline. I was told not to look at it all "logically.” I was told to “Have faith” and “Only God knows.” So, I simply followed along. I was a Christian, I had to have faith. 

As I came out as gay, I became aware of the homophobia I had developed due to the church's and society's teachings and my family's belief in it as well. I later found a group for evangelical Christians who were struggling with sexual identity and orientation. The group helped for a bit, yet some of my earlier beliefs still seemed to clash with my new gay identity. On one hand, I had strong romantic notions and believed sex was something unique and special, not something to be entered into lightly while the gay community (and by extension, society at large) seemed to revel in a new sexual freedom. And the more freedom I gave myself to explore, the more I lost myself in the process. I did what I thought I had to in order to be accepted, and to try and accept myself. I was gay, this was what I was supposed to do.

As I got more in touch with my identity and reconciled my sexuality and Christianity, I found my beliefs around Christianity and its teachings evolving into something very different. And quite personal.

I've already described my awakening to Shamanism and its spiritual teachings and now I find myself turning inward even more and wondering even more deeply about who I am because the more inward I turn, I have found I have worn many masks through the years. 

It's time they come off. I’m taking off the Masks of Indifference, of Being Quiet, of The Flock, and of False Acceptance.

About a year ago, I discovered a project called "My Intent" where a word or phrase is stamped on a washer and turned into a bracelet, necklace or other charm. This word or phrase is what you intend to work on with the idea to wear the bracelet until the string breaks indicating you have mastered that particular intent. 

I have two bracelets. One has the word "SURRENDER" reminding me to surrender to the what is and not worry about the what was or the what will be. In other words, stay in the moment, in the now.

The other has the phrase "I'M ENOUGH" meaning that I don't have to be or do anything that isn't true to me to gain anyone else's approval. If someone can't accept me for who I am, that is their problem.

This last intent has become the hardest to work on. As a child of divorce, I have sought outside validation. I wanted others to like me or to approve of me. And if they did, then maybe I would, too.

As I move forward in my life, I am finding that the more I discover my core values and my true authentic self, I find I don't fit in the world at large. And I have to learn and accept that that is okay. 

And maybe I don't need to fit in. 

I AM ENOUGH just as I am.

No one has to like me, or what I do, say or believe.

And if they don’t, that’s their problem. Not mine.

Now, if I could only learn not to take it personally.

My favorite number (and showstopper) form the Broadway musical "La Cage Aux Folles." I felt it was appropriate for this post. Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 6, 2017


Over the course of the last few months, some well-meaning and caring friends have dropped the ‘I’ word in their concern for me. 


And it caused me to reflect, which then prompted this post.

Isolation is defined by Merriam-Webster as
  1. the state of being in a place or situation that is separate from others;
  2. the condition of being isolated;
  3. the act of separating something from other things;
  4. the act of isolating something.
The third and fourth definitions are presented as transitive, meaning someone is isolating me, almost as a punishment or penalty.

Um, no. No one has told me I've been a bad boy lately.

The second definition suggests a condition, possibly in the lines of an illness requiring quarantine.

Again, no. Aside from a small tickle in my throat at the moment, I am physically healthy, while my therapist assures me that I am emotionally sane, as well.

That leaves the first definition.

The word 'state' also suggests a 'condition,' physical or mental, which I’ve already ruled out. But, yes, I do find myself separate from others.

Besides a definition, words have a connotation, a feeling that accompanies the textual meaning. Prison guards isolate prisoners who are violent; boards of health quarantine people who pose a threat to the general population. Bullies may socially isolate or ostracize their victim. So, isolation carries a negative feeling as well as the idea that it is often imposed upon others by authority figures. No one is forcing me into alleged isolation.

And it’s true, I don’t go out much, but when I have ventured out into the world to try and socialize more, I’ve discovered some things about myself.
  1. I am an introvert.
A recent encounter with a financial planner resulted in an invitation to hear his sales pitch. I had explained I was not in a position to make any changes at this time, but he just asked if I was open enough to listen. I said I was and he suggested a meeting over coffee. What did I have to lose? Nothing, and I’d get a free cup of coffee at a Starbucks or someplace similar. We exchanged numbers and he later called to set up the meeting. I arrived at his place of business only to find 30-40 other people in attendance and no coffee in sight. This unexpected plethora of additional guests startled me which set my introversion and anxiety into an unusually high overdrive! 

The invitees remained in one room and were later escorted to another larger room to begin the ‘tour' which left me wondering what this had to do with financial planning? If we were going on a ‘tour,’ maybe I could look for an escape as the anxiety was now reaching critical levels. No such luck. We remained in the larger room where we-the invitees-were introduced to various people one at a time, all of whom had invited someone else, and we ended up making mind-numbing small talk with several strangers. I felt corralled and deceived. However, I paid attention to myself to see how I was feeling during the course of the evening as I was now determined to use this as a self-reflection.
  1. I am a borderline empath.
I took the Metro to work for a while and even though not focusing on driving and traffic was relaxing, just being around so many people was tiring. I later learned that that is what defines an empath; either picking up on others’ energies or emotions. While I don’t necessarily "pick up" on the various emotions of people around me, just the energies surrounding me are enough to tire me out for a while. Even a shopping trip to a crowded store or a meal in a busy restaurant can be overwhelming. Oh, and I abhor Christmas shopping unless it’s online. 

An introvert and empath each require recovery time after social interactions, to recharge their batteries if you will. Being both adds to the necessity.
  1. I don’t fit in. Yet.
Well, I don’t feel I fit in in the groups I’ve tried to attend. Over the last few years, I’ve joined a few gay social groups. All, but one, have imploded due to the Royal High drama by some members of the group. I believe I am low-key, or at least I try to be and prefer to leave the drama for the professionals on stage. Other groups have misrepresented their intentions based on their application process. 

Several years ago I had an experience which led me to the path of Shamanism as a spiritual way of looking at and living life. However, life itself got in the way and I wasn’t able to fully embrace the path until shortly after my divorce when I was led to a teacher who helped me shore up my foundation. We soon parted ways as his journey led him in a different direction. I read and studied on my own and again life intervened and my studies and practice faltered. A couple of years ago, I was awakened to an additional aspect of my journey which propelled me further into my soul to heal some deep hurts and wounds from my past and to begin to discover my true authentic self. As I am uncovering more of my core values, I’m finding I don’t feel I fit into society at large, let alone the gay community. While many gay men focus on fitting the relationship around the sex, I prefer a relationship that is all-encompassing; heart, mind, soul, and body. If you can’t stimulate the first three, you can damn well give up on the fourth.

I also find myself learning to live and let live, yet I don’t see it in society at large. Religious and political differences have led to name-calling, violence and an increase in negativity. Other differences in personal opinions have also led to name calling and judgments. I do believe in expressing our differing opinions, but peacefully and ultimately respecting others’ choices, even if it is painful or contrary to our personal beliefs. The only thing we can control is our reaction to what happens around us. It is not easy, but essential for our peace of mind, and ultimately our physical health as I believe our mind and body are connected.

As an empath, it is a strain to be around or read all the negative energies. Learning to detach from the negativity when surrounded by it is not an easy lesson to master.

I will yield a bit here and acquiesce that I could simply find a group, join it, not give a shit, detach from their drama, keep myself grounded and eventually some members of the group will adjust. And if they don't adjust to me, they're free to not interact with me. But, that is a lot of work and perhaps a bit controlling, "Accept me or else!" However, if the group's proposed activities simply do not appeal to me, what's the point of joining that particular group? Then, I should move on and try searching once more, yet again. But, at the moment, I'm finding it hard to find any group, other than my writers' group, that piques my interest.

Perhaps I am in need of a group that relates more to what I’m experiencing because the members are walking a similar path, too. Perhaps then I’ll feel like I belong somewhere, I will feel connected.

Instead of isolation, with its overall negative connotation, I prefer the more positive term solitude which Merriam-Webster defines as 'a state or situation in which you are alone usually because you want to be.' However, I would change it to read '...want or need to be.'

Solitude gives me time to reflect on where I am on this journey of life and make adjustments as necessary.

And I believe solitude is exactly what I need.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Social Media

Why are we so mean to each other, especially on social media? Is it so difficult to show a bit of gratitude even for something you didn't want, need or even ask for? Wasn't the effort someone showed to try and help simply enough even if it wasn't right? Is bullying so pervasive in our culture we can’t allow anyone to express themselves without tearing them down for their different views? Have we totally lost the ability to engage in a polite disagreement?

For the sake of my point, I will not address the current political situation in the US as it is quite an explosive issue.

I have seen posts on Facebook or tweets on Twitter where someone has shared a concern, a problem or a health issue. People have very kindly posted suggestions based on their experiences. The original poster sometimes responded derisively with the attitude of "I've already tried that!" with no sense of gratitude for someone at least offering to help. How can the commenter know what you've already tried if they are a friend just on social media? And if you didn't want anyone to comment, why post?

A woman recently posted in a spiritual group that I belong to on Facebook that she has been experiencing a string of bad luck and tragic events for many, many years. "How can I break this bad luck?" she posted. I offered my beliefs that the Universe never gives us more than we can handle and we are much stronger than we give ourselves credit for, and without the mud, we'd never see the lotus. "Yeah, I've read all that. What more must I do?" Several others offered their suggestions based on their experiences, which were all shot down and not once was there any sense of gratitude for those trying to help her.

And this bullying seems even more concentrated in the gay male community, which is sad because, with all we've been through, one would think-and hope-we'd be there more for each other, rather than less.

With the rise of the charges of sexual harassment and assault flying out of Hollywood, Washington, and other locations, I’ve read a few articles mentioning the same charges about the happenings in gay bars and clubs.

Marc Ambinder writes in an article dated October 16, 2017 (link below) that groping and other unwanted advances are quite commonplace in gay bars and clubs and he suggests that consent is almost implied the moment you enter the establishment, and even more so as the night wears on and more alcohol has been consumed. After all, men are there for sex, many are dancing shirtless and sweaty, and may be under the influence of not only alcohol but who knows what else. And that this type of behavior is responsible for men like Harvey Weinstein.

Lane Hudson replies in an article dated October 18, 2017 (link below) that comparing the Hollywood scandals to an average night in a gay bar is totally off base. He states that men like Harvey Weinstein are sexual predators, using their influence and position to prey upon others, while gay men in a bar are simply horny and wanting sex. Hudson wonders what bars Ambinder has visited because Hudson hasn’t seen the extremes Ambinder describes. Hudson also states that only the sloppiest of drunks would approach someone and make an inappropriate advance.

I beg to differ. I was assaulted, not at a bar, but in a gay square dance class and as alcohol is not permitted during classes or dances, I can probably assume the perp was sober. During one set the caller called a 'pass through’-a call where the designated dancers pass right shoulders with the person facing them essentially trading places. As I passed through with the man facing me, he reached down and grabbed my crotch. I was shocked, stunned, angered. I didn’t know how to react. I finished the set and went home. I never told anyone, not even my now ex-husband, until I shared this with a therapist several years later. 

But I digress from my original point. As I read the comments on the Hudson article, which I originally found on Facebook, they were quite divisive. There were, as expected, two points of view. There were those who supported the article with the "It’s all a bit of fun.", "I enjoy the attention." and "That’s to be expected in a gay bar." attitudes. Then there were those who took the opposite side, "I go to enjoy myself and talk with my friends in a safe environment.", "I don’t want anyone touching me without permission."

It seemed those men liking the more "hands-on" approach felt the others weren’t gay enough for not appreciating the attention. Unwanted attention is unwanted attention, period. I don’t understand why those who like being groped had to make those kinds of comments. Just because they enjoy that kind of attention, not everyone else does. I certainly don't. And to be honest, I can’t recall if the "hands-off" group retaliated with similar comments. 

Daniel Franzese is an actor who recently came forward with a different story. In his recount, which he first tweeted in mid-October, and was later picked up by other media, (one link below) he accused Bijou Phillips of bullying him on a movie set years earlier. He states she body-shamed him, referred to him as the "bi-guy" every time he walked on set and, at times, kicked him. The comments posted against him were, in my opinion, uncalled for; "This was sixteen years ago. Just get over it already.", "Another whiner.", and one that really set me off, "He’d be singing a different tune if it were a good looking guy."

The man who assaulted me was very good looking, and that hasn't changed my tune at all. 

To be fair, Franzese did get more positive responses. "At last, stories of women who take advantage of men.", "I’m sorry this happened to you."

And, there were some comments against her. "Perhaps if she had had to work to get into Hollywood, she’d act differently.", "What a bitch."

To her credit, when Ms. Phillips heard of the account, she reached out both privately and publicly to Mr. Franzese to apologize, and take responsibility for her actions, which he publicly acknowledged. And people still tore her down, "Too little, too late."

I totally understand wanting to express an opinion on a topic. After all, it is freedom of speech. But, why degrade someone whose opinion or behavior differs from yours? Since websites and social media, such as Twitter and Facebook, are such a public arena with little chance of running into the other person, perhaps people feel more prone to attack.

But, I have to ask, if it doesn’t directly affect you, is it necessary to comment at all, especially negatively about the commenter? After all, it is quite possible to simply read something, disagree and move on, without public comment.

I just don’t understand people’s need to put others down and I guess I never will. Aren't we all fighting our own battles? Do we need any more to fight?

It’s this negativity that pushes me away, turning me off to the world at large making it less appealing to be out there, especially among the gay community. 

But, perhaps, I should remember this:

Thank you, Mrs. Rogers, I'll look for them, too.
To read the article from Daniel Franzese, click here.

To read the original column by Marc Ambinder, click here.

To read Lane Hudson's rebuttal to Marc Ambinder, click here.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Thanksgiving 2017

I last wrote a Thanksgiving post in 2015.

So here is a new one.

I am indeed grateful for the "traditional" things most of us say we are grateful for; home, health, job. Oops, maybe not that last one, but I am grateful for the career I had for over 34 years.

And I'm grateful for the retirement benefits I am now enjoying; the leisure, the lack of deadlines, the reduced job-related stress, and the freedom to do what I want when I want if I even want to do anything at all.

As I go through this journey of life I have met some wonderful people. I am grateful for the lessons they have taught me. I am also grateful for the ones who try to understand this difficult journey I'm on even when there are moments I don't understand it myself.

I have also met some less-than-wonderful people and am also grateful for those lessons.

The last couple of years have been a roller coaster of emotions.

The contemplation of retirement, the ending of a relationship-which doesn't feel like it's over, the improvements to my house, the solitude plus the tranquility, the ups and downs of this new part of my journey all have been part of these last couple of years.

Someone trying to get a drink from the fountain
For the most part, I have felt very positive about these changes; except maybe the relationship. Retirement has brought a new sense of freedom as I mentioned above. I will take it one day at a time. The solar panels have brought some financial blessings. The drought-tolerant garden has been a mixed blessing as some plants didn't make it and need to be replaced, while the rest have overtaken some and need to be trimmed back.

The solitude and accompanying tranquility have also been a mixed blessing. As I sit in my home in the mornings, I enjoy the quiet. I have a bird feeder outside my living room window where I can watch the sparrows, finches, and doves feed. I have added a tabletop feeder to my patio table so when I'm in my dining room I can see them feed there. I'd noticed some jays showing up, so now I include raw peanuts for them. I've purchased two water features, one for the patio and one for the entryway. They run on timers and start early in the morning and shut off at night. There are times I don't want to leave my house for the peace and quiet.

As for the relationship, it has been difficult to get over, because I don't feel it is. Due to our extremely deep connection, it may never be, at least in a non-traditional sense. But, I am grateful for it as it has propelled me into a deeper sense of self than I had before.

I also am grateful for the synchronicities that are shown to me; the recurring numbers I keep seeing as it is these messages that tell me I am on the right path for what will be my greater good; and the other signs that tell me the relationship has played, and will continue to play, an extremely vital role in my journey, whether he and I eventually reunite or not.

One of the visiting scrub jays
The entryway fountain
I look at these challenges as gifts, even if they are sometimes difficult to open because one day I'll get through the hard ones and become much more at peace. But this is my journey at this time.

For which I'm grateful. 

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Proportional Drama

Why is it we seem to create more drama for ourselves than is actually necessary, as if any drama at all were actually necessary?

I recently traveled across the country to honor a family member where I would also find myself face to face with two other family members who’ve caused me great emotional pain in the past. I hadn’t seen them in 20 and 30 years respectively and hadn’t anticipated seeing them again. But, now I was going to.

Prior to the trip, I did everything I could to prepare myself emotionally, mentally and spiritually; had in-depth sessions with my therapist, asked my Wiccan friend to remember me in her Samhain rituals, invoked my numerous spirit guides, meditated on my own inner strength, rationalized that this was all for my own healing/greater good and paid attention to the increasing number of synchronicities as the trip itself approached. 

I planned to leave Los Angeles two days prior to the celebration which would give me time to adjust to the time difference. The main event was a formal ceremony which would offer minimal interaction with the individuals. However, the free time before and after the ceremony itself was where I anticipated any possible interaction as we would be free to mill about, and that was what triggered the anxiety. Also, there was a second, less formal event where I knew additional family drama might raise its tragic head.

I developed the attitude of 'I’m simply going to do what I feel is important to me' and if anyone would give me grief, I would simply reply "I no longer care what you think. I do what I feel is best for me, for my greater good, not yours."

Kind of a polite "Go fuck yourself!"

Plus, I was there to honor the celebrant and no one else. Period. Case closed. Move along.

Everything I saw/felt/interpreted indicated the trip itself would be smooth and positive. Yet, the anxiety persisted.

As I hate traveling anyway, the night before leaving I had a difficult time sleeping; tossing and turning almost all night. I tried every trick I knew to relax-a white noise app, a guided meditation app, melatonin-but the anticipation of what could happen along the way and while there was also a bit of a worry. Okay, a major worry, in spite of the fact I knew I could control nothing but my reaction to whatever might come up.

Other than the traditional rough landing at my final destination, the travel itself went well; the plethora of synchronicities surrounding the departure gate for the last leg was overwhelmingly supportive. "All would be well," they said. I felt blessed.

Once I arrived, I began to steady myself for the event two days later. It all seemed to be so surreal, yet actually happening. I kept up my mantra, "I can do this, it’s for my greater good. I can do this, it’s for my greater good."

The two nights I was there before the ceremony, I had an even harder time sleeping, tossing and turning all night, suffered bad cases of indigestion, and now higher anxiety as the reality was now setting in. Plus, I was not in the comfort and safety of my home, my bed. Still, I continued my mantra, "I can do this, it’s for my greater good. I can do this, it’s for my greater good. I can do this, it IS for my greater good, damn it."

While some anxiety is normal, I think the amount I was feeling was a bit extreme. I believe the emotional attachment I once had to these people and amount of time that had passed since I last saw them had allowed the pain to fester all of which kept me from fully grounding myself. Plus, this was family which seems to carry added weight.

I knew I had no control over anything but my reaction. I knew I had to get through this struggle. I knew I would get through this moment. I knew the Universe was teaching me a lesson and I would be fine in the end. Yet, the anxiety was still overwhelming.

On the hour’s drive to the venue, I practiced settling myself-deep breathing exercises, picturing my safe place, connecting with my guides. One family member, who was in a similar boat as I, shared his strategy as to how he planned on surviving this moment. Knowing I had an ally on my side was very reassuring.

We arrived at the venue, parked and found some seats in the auditorium. After greeting some of the others already there, the particular two individuals in question finally arrived at the ceremony. I decided to take my power back and walked up to one of them. After a brief moment while he finished another conversation, we extended our hands, shook them and exchanged a "How do you do?" and a "Fine, thank you." He then turned and walked away. The other was busy so I returned to my seat. Following the ceremony, everyone milled about the foyer and entryway while waiting to leave for the second event. I had found out these two people wouldn’t be going, so I could breathe a bit once we were on our way. Shortly, the two came up to me; we shook hands, and they said their goodbyes and were off.

And that was that. A grand total of about two minutes caused me so much anxiety that I was physically ill at times and then turned out to be nothing like I had imagined.

Why is it we blow such things so out of proportion? I believe it’s because we attach too much emotion to situations especially where family is involved. I don’t mean to suggest emotions are bad, but sometimes we allow them to cloud our judgment. I’d been through difficult times before but to me, this was very different. Perhaps it was because these were two family members with some long and difficult history between us. Perhaps it’s also because we want to believe we will be safe so we imagine all the worst case scenarios in order to be prepared which triggers the anxiety and then it almost never turns out the way we imagined. Funny, that. It’s like an emotional catch-22.

So, what was the Universe teaching me here? 
  1. Stop overthinking, for one; but that is so much easier said than done. 
  2. In reality, nothing turns out how we imagine it will. 
  3. Let go of what you can’t control. 
  4. Trust in the Universe and in yourself.
Perhaps all of the above. With an emphasis on the last part of the last one.

Life is not about the destination but is the journey itself and what we learn along the way.

Especially from the bumps we hit...

Friday, October 20, 2017


I know we all have our personal preferences;
  • Red wine or white? 
  • Dark chocolate or milk? 
  • Madonna or Cher?
I also know we all have our personal beliefs when it comes to politics.

Yet, I have been struggling lately; especially with this last one.

As I have been walking this newer path, or at least trying to, I seem to have hit a wall, which, I know, is normal. But, this is a difficult wall to climb. It’s also a very painful one.

In his book, The Four Agreements, Don Miguel Ruiz shares some ancient Toltec wisdom to help bring peace and enlightenment for us to live by in order to better today’s society. There are four agreements that he says the ancient Toltecs lived by:
  1. Be impeccable with your word.
  2. Take nothing personally.
  3. Make no assumptions.
  4. Always do your best.
Two of those I can easily live with.

Two of those I struggle with, especially in today’s very difficult times.

In Buddhist Boot Camp, Timber Hawkeye describes his journey to spiritual understanding. He has stripped away all the trappings of Buddhism as a religion and presented the results, the basic tenets, as an inspirational guide for each of us to be a better person regardless of our personal faith.

In it, he explains Buddhism teaches that the opposite of what I know to be true, is also true. It's just true for someone else. And that’s when the conflicts begin; when we try to impose our truth on someone else whose truth is different than ours, then they resist which we sometimes take personally. "Can’t they see I’m right?"

Years ago, a colleague of mine was very supportive when my husband divorced me. "You deserved better, you were too good for him," she’d say. I felt safe (to an extent) with her. She later openly stated her opposition to same-sex marriage. (This was before the US Supreme Court decision.) When I called her out on her stance, she cited her religious views and claimed it wasn’t personal.

"Bullshit," I said. Even though she was coming from her place of truth, it subjugated me to second-class status as it denied me the same rights accorded by marriage that she takes for granted. How can I not take that personally? Yet, we were both still coming from our respective places of truth. We never came to an understanding. In 2015, the US Supreme Court ruled in favor of same-sex couples and the right to marry. I'm not sure how she accepted that ruling. I was so overcome with emotions, I framed the LA Times and hung it proudly in my entryway.

With the current stepped up verbal, political and violent attacks against the LGBTQIA community, how can anyone not take it personally when votes are cast against us? Especially when those votes come from those close to us?

It is indeed a struggle. I have to ask myself, "Are these individuals actually acting to hurt me and the LGBTQIA community? Are they marking their ballot specifically to spite me?" Letting go of the disappointment that they don’t 'see the light' of the pain they are causing me is difficult. While we are relatively safe in California against anti-discrimination laws, other states still have laws on the books allowing an employer to simply dismiss a worker because of their personal life. And other countries are indeed far worse.

Sometimes I question whether it's worth my energy to talk to these individuals. Will they see my side and see that I am right? Will they at least listen to my argument that "We the People" does indeed mean EVERYBODY? In my early years of activism, I learned when to give up on a lost cause. I have learned when someone will at least listen and maybe take my side into consideration. I try to keep that distinction in mind.

At a recent meeting of my LGBTQIA writers' group, I noticed some word art on the walls of the home where we were meeting. One particular piece that caught my eye said something like "I get wherever I need to go, I get whatever I need." Or something to that effect.

The next day, an article appeared in my Facebook timeline, newsfeed, or whatever they’re calling it this week. The article was titled Feeling Offended by Anything (or Anyone) is a Choice. The author, Jacky Exton, believes that we assign our value to others’ opinions. For example, if someone said I was a lousy teacher, I’d be offended because I define myself as a teacher. But, if someone said I was a lousy flamenco dancer, I wouldn’t take offense because I don’t define myself as a flamenco dancer. So, we define ourselves by external labels and then value ourselves by how other people see us in those labels.

I define myself as a citizen of the United States. I have been taught I am entitled to the same unalienable rights as every other citizen of this nation. I also define myself as gay. Yet, others don’t believe that LGBTQIA citizens are entitled to those exact same unalienable rights. They vote for parties and candidates who want to take them away. How am I not supposed to be offended? How can I not take this personally? 

More importantly, how, amongst all this, am I to maintain peace of mind?

When people look at their ballot, they have a lot to consider. They bring in a lot of questions, thoughts, and ideas from their personal truths. Do they stop and think about all the individuals in their lives and how their votes will affect each of them? Most likely not. I have a hard time thinking that my friends mark their ballots specifically for anti-LGBTQIA parties and candidates in order to spite me. Wouldn’t that be an assumption if I thought they really did vote that way? It would.

Does it still hurt? Yes. 

Buddhism also teaches that we can’t control others’ actions, but only our own reactions.

So, it’s up to me to choose how to react;
  • I can do nothing at all or,
  • I can make assumptions and take things personally which I could internalize and ruminate or,
  • I can be righteously indignant and turn that into action or,
  • I can continue to learn to value myself as I see my self.
So, it seems I got what I needed from that article when I needed it.

This may not help me alleviate the pain and disappointment right now, but it’s giving me a road map to get me where I need to go.

Both "The Four Agreements" and "Buddhist Boot Camp" are available on Amazon.com

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Hot Cocoa

Hello, little one, it’s been a while since we’ve had a chat. How are you doing? Would you like some cocoa?

Here you go. Careful, it’s hot. 

You’re welcome. 


Yes, things have been difficult lately, haven’t they? And for both of us. So, what’s bothering you?

I see; you’re afraid. Afraid of what? 

Oh, afraid he’ll leave. Well, that’s always a possibility that we can’t control. We have lost a few, haven’t we?

Well, he died because he was ill. I think of it like this; he had fulfilled his journey here on Earth and also with us and it was his time. I don’t know how else I can explain it. But we were able to move on.

What about the others?

Wait. What? 

No, it was never your fault! You must never think that. You never did anything wrong! Come here, let me hold you. There. Shhh…It was always something to do with them, you must remember that. They reached a point where they had to go off on their own. Can you think of it like this: we were helping them grow, and they reached a point where they could grow no further? They were afraid of what they might find; what they might discover. So, they ran.

In a way, yes. They were afraid of themselves.

Oh my, little one, yes. This last one was excruciatingly painful. But, look at the risk we did take. We should be proud of ourselves for opening our hearts again. But, look at what he has to overcome.

Yes, in a way it does make sense, but no, it doesn’t ease the pain. We wish him well. 

Yes, always. Here dry your eyes.

Yeah, he was. He was very special; he always will be. 

What was that sigh about?

The future? What about it?

Yes, learning to trust again will be hard. But, in time I think we can. Besides, the future will be what it will be. We can't change it.


That's true. Not everyone has to understand us. Or accept us. And not everyone will. And that's okay. We just have to understand and accept ourselves.

Yes, it hurts. But, we will surround ourselves with those that love us and accept us and we'll be fine.

Yes, the future is scary. It's scary because we don't know what's coming. But you know what? I’m here right beside you. Here, take my hand. Can I tell you something? 

Okay, here goes. Feelings are normal. Adults can get scared, too.

Yes, we do. And we acknowledge the feeling and then we try our best to work through it. Or with it.

Feel better?

Only a little?

Hey, I will never let you down. I am here with you always, because you know what? We are one and the same. You are as much a part of me as I am of you. And when you begin to feel fearful, or distrustful again, I will be right here to protect you.

Yes, always...

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Synchronicities 7

The synchronicities happening in my life have taken quite an interesting turn.

First, they were mostly sets of the same digit, appearing often; for example, 1111, 222, 777, 8888888. I'd notice them mostly on license plates, clocks, receipts, etc. I believe I have written about them before. After all, this post is titled "Synchronicities 7."

Then they added another level and became repeated combinations of 3- or 4- digits. Two threes and a one is a frequent combination, usually as 331 or 313. Two ones and two sevens is another one I see often; 1177, 1717, etc.

Also, words began appearing frequently, and usually they were connected to a young man who is very special to me. Since his first name can be used either as a noun or a verb, and his last name can be a verb, those particular words would stand out when I saw or heard them. Often they, both first and last names, would appear in a crossword puzzle I do, Daily Celebrity Crossword, and an opponent even played his last name in Words With Friends and twice the new tiles in my rack formed his first name. One might argue that I might be a bit sensitive to seeing or hearing his names being the deep connection we share(d) and in time that sensitivity would wear off. Yet, combined with all the other synchronicities happening, and the varied areas where his name appears often at random times, I believe the Universe is keeping his name front and center reminding me of our connection.

Coincidences rarely happen. However, these numbers have been appearing daily for over a year which leads me to believe this is something more than simple coincidence, especially when it happens multiple times in one day with different numbers.

Now, here's where the plot thickens. On a recent Monday, I went to my local Home Depot. I parked in a space with no cars in the space directly in front of me or to either side of that one which gave me a clear view of the cars in the next aisle over. There were two cars parked side by side with no cars for two spaces on either side of them. So, these two were by themselves. They stood out.

As I have a thing for license plates, I glanced at these two. I had already seen a plate with 111 in this same parking lot! Both cars' plates ended in the same three-digit number, 837! This was a new sequence for me; I had never noticed it before. What are the odds of two cars sitting side by side, not surrounded by other cars for at least two spaces on either side, ending in the same three digits? I would think they would be astronomical.

Later that same week on Thursday, I drove to my doctor's office for a routine visit. In less than ten minutes, from the time I entered the parking lot to the time I entered the building, I noticed 858 on three different license plates! Now, I must say I didn't go plate by plate looking for repeated number sequences as this is a huge medical facility and I was running close to my appointment time. All three plates just happened to be where I simply glanced over at them.

Some numerologists ascribe material needs or situation-finances, career, etc-to the number 8. These two combinations seemed to suggest that 1) the Universe has my back where my material situation is concerned, and that 2) a change would be coming to my material status so, I was either going to wipe out financially or win the lottery. Either way is a change. But, the Universe still has my back.

Being that these are the first two specific "messages" I've seen, I tried not to attach any hope or expectation to them. I simply acknowledged them, accepted that the Universe has my back, noted a change would be coming at some point in the future, made a mental note of gratitude and went on my day as usual.

By Friday of the same week, I had received word that one of my creditors was substantially raising my limit, a surprise windfall was deposited directly to my bank account, and I learned my pension check was increasing.

On my way to a different appointment a week later, I stopped at a Starbucks. While leaving the lot, I had to wait for a car to pull out of a spot. The license plate ended in 111. A few moments later, while driving on the freeway to the appointment, two cars passed me on the left. They were in adjacent lanes, one to my immediate left, the other to the left of that car, so for one brief moment, they were side by side. Both cars' plates ended in 777!

Sample of a finished Bonza puzzle
Synchronicities don't always involve numbers. As I've mentioned, they have also involved words. I enjoy music as I drive and was listening to an 80s station. As I was approaching this new appointment, one of my favorite songs came on and finished just as I parked my car. I was a bit early for my appointment, so I sat on a bench to while away the time. Taking out my iPhone, I decided to play a puzzle game, Bonza, that I have on both my iPhone and iPad. Now, I haven't played this app on my phone for quite some time, maybe a year at least, so this was unusual. In Bonza, there is a clue, and the answers connect via common letters, similar to a crossword. At first, the answers are broken into pieces and I have to figure out the words or phrases and where they connect. The clue to the next available puzzle in the pack was "Rick Rolled." I had no idea what that meant and as I like a nice challenge, I tapped the screen and there were the pieces of the words or phrases. As I pieced the answers together, they began forming lines from the chorus of the song I had heard just moments before; "Never Gonna Give You Up," by Rick Astley!

The facts that 1) I had just heard the song moments before; 2) I rarely play this puzzle on my phone (the screen's too small to read comfortably with my bad vision) and 3) this was the only available puzzle for me suggested this was not merely a coincidence especially since I had seen 111, twin 777s and now this new synchronicity with the song and puzzle all in about 45 minutes?

So, it seems newer number sequences are appearing simultaneously, or at least in near rapid fire succession. And now the Universe is keeping me on my toes with music and different puzzles. I will say, I am curious as to why the Universe used this song. I'm trying hard not to read anything into it, but it isn't easy.

I try to take it all in stride which is difficult given it can be quite overwhelming. I view the numbers all as affirmations that I'm on the right path for my greater good and all will be well in the end.

And if it's not well, it's not the end.

(But, that song, though...)

Please check out Bonza and Daily Celebrity Crossword for your phone or tablet. They are highly addictive!! 

"Never Gonna Give You Up" official video

Thursday, October 5, 2017

More Shame

Tower of London
I am a great believer in synchronicity, those seemingly odd coincidences that might not be so odd or coincidental after all.

Shortly after I wrote my post about shame in the gay male community, an article appeared on the Huffington Post Queer Voices page about that very topic. But, with a different angle. 

The timing was not lost on me. But, what the timing means, I have yet to discover.

The writer began by stating that as gay men we should not feel shame for having casual anonymous sex.

I agree wholeheartedly. But, NOT for the reasons the author gave. And in my eyes, he stands on very flimsy ground.

He begins his article stating that anonymous sex was a crucial part of gay men’s history and development. Okay, that much is true. For centuries the only way two men could have sex was through anonymous encounters usually meeting in clandestine locations and under the cover of darkness, or in places designed for such encounters, i.e., bathhouses. No names were exchanged because to divulge personal information could possibly lead to severe consequences-public shaming, being fired, murder. Yet, today that still happens. Casual hookups easily made from our phones through hookup apps like Grindr and Scruff have led to attacks, robberies, or worse.

He continues and states casual anonymous sex is so much a part of our gay male culture that is has been practically ingrained into our gay DNA. And that if you are single you are expected to engage in casual, sometimes anonymous, sex.

"...as a single gay man, casual sex is what I am expected to do. It is the social script written for my people.

Expected? EXPECTED? Bullfuckingshit.

The only things we are expected to do is pay our taxes and then eventually die, although some people get away without paying their taxes. 

Oh, it gets better.

"...for a gay man, his decision to engage in such behavior runs deeper than mere bodily satisfaction. It is a part of his history and identity.”

"...we continue to strengthen a sexual culture that is unique to our identity because to operate against this is to divorce ourselves from a gay past."

Hiding Place in a safe house
So, we have no control, no free will against freeing the willie. We are nothing more than mindless sexual robots fucking anonymously out of historical duty. I see.

Times change, dude. It may be part of our history and collective identity, but our individual identity is what we make of ourselves.

Sex is the essence of our being. First dates involve technical discussions of who tops and who bottoms?

We live for sex, not self-improvement? Not strengthening the mind, enlightening the spirit?

"To wait in purity for our Prince Charming is to welcome certain isolation. Worse, to abstain from this behavior is to sever what little ties connect us to our gay past.”

So, if I don’t engage in casual sex, I’m not actually gay and I will be shunned? Nor am I connected to my gay past? 

Oh, hell no.

I am connected to my past because of who and where I come from. If I were to engage in behaviors from my ancestral past, I would be a polygamous slave owner running a safe house on the Underground Railroad while awaiting my fate in the Tower of London. We cannot change the past, whether historical or ancestral. We can acknowledge it happened, learn from it and move on. 

"...gay men inhabit a society far removed from the heteronormative. We should feel no shame when engaging in these behaviors. Rather, we should feel community, camaraderie, and unity. For all the divisions that plague the gay community, casual, anonymous sex is perhaps the one commonality that binds us.

He’s right. We should feel no shame for these behaviors, nor should we feel shame for any emotionally healthy behavior we choose to engage in. But, here’s where he truly lost me. He states, "This is not the first time I have had anonymous sex, nor will it be the last. This is not the first time I have loathed the experience, nor will it be the last.

Polygamous Family
So, I have one question; why? Why continue doing something you loathe? Out of obligation to our history? Because it’s part of a community script? Because you are expected to? I have no words.

I have had a few anonymous encounters in my life. I loathed them all. Then that loathing eventually turned inward. Therapists say that if a behavior brings you pleasure, you should continue provided it is safe and healthy-meaning it doesn’t cause physical or emotional harm to you or others. In other words, no addictive behaviors, e.g. drugs, tobacco, overeating, excessive shopping. So, I stopped having anonymous casual encounters.

I do feel community, camaraderie, and unity with my gay brethren because my romantic and sexual attraction is toward my own gender. But, I do not feel community, camaraderie, and unity with my gay brethren when those same brothers try and dictate to me what is best for my greater good because they have not walked my individual path. 

I understand that some men have that need for casual anonymous sex. I don't.

Do I feel my abstaining from casual sex disconnects me from my gay history? Not any more than my not following my ancestors’ ways of life disconnects me from my heritage. 

Do I feel I am abstaining from casual sex out of some religious indoctrination? No.

Do I feel I am abstaining from casual sex out of some heteronormative ingraining? No.

Do I feel I am abstaining from casual sex out of my own personal experiences? Yes.

Do I feel I am abstaining from casual sex because I’ve determined it is for my greater good? Yes.

And no one knows better than I what is best for my greater good.

Even if I am still trying to figure it out.

As I go along...

        Day by day...

                Step by step...

To view the original article, click here.

Thursday, September 28, 2017


For a community that prides itself on acceptance, and fights for it in mainstream society, it amazes me how often some members of the gay male community aren't as accepting of diversity, and in fact, can be quite judgmental.

For a community that prides itself on freedom of self-expression, and often challenges the norms in that self-expression, I'm confused as to why some members of the community deride others' self-expression, especially when it runs counter to their own self-expression. 

In fact, the community can be quite divisive as well as divided.

At least from my perspective.

Recently an actor took the step of coming out publicly. Coming out is a very brave personal step because we are never sure of the outcome, especially where our family, friends or jobs are concerned: "Will I be accepted or rejected?" "Will I be fired?" Current state workplace laws are quite varied, yet in 2017, 28 states still have laws allowing a person to be fired simply for being gay or lesbian, and in 30 states for being transgender. Plus, coming out as a public figure is even riskier as many careers have been ruined because of coming out, being outed or even simply being perceived as LGBTQ. However, this actor also took the even braver steps of coming out not only as gay but also as a gay Muslim and as a “total bottom.” This means he likes it “up you know where.” (His words, not mine.)

Now, I was brought up to be a bit more discreet about intimacy. It’s private. It’s personal. So, I have a very difficult time understanding why he chose to disclose that last bit of information. But, to each, his own and I respect his decision to do so. 

I do understand that many straight people are curious about how two people of the same gender have sex and presumptions are frequently made. Male couples are often asked, "Which one’s the girl?" while two women are asked the opposite question. All of this plays into gender stereotypes and roles within relationships based on those stereotypes.

Even among gay men, there seems to be some fascination with other men’s preferred positions. I remember years ago sitting in a staff development training focusing on science standards and the presenter was sharing some geology activities. Next to me was another gay male teacher who knew I had just started dating someone and was asking some innocent questions, "What does he do?" "How’d you two meet?" "How old is he?" I got a little sheepish when I said he was somewhat younger. Later, the presenter went over the sedimentary process of the rock cycle and explained that sedimentary rocks form in layers from the bottom up, therefore the youngest layer is always on top. It was then my colleague leaned over and whispered, "Is it true? Is the youngest always on top?" I must have turned a bright shade of burgundy.

When I came out in 1983, the gay liberation movement was in full swing. We were fighting for our rights and redefining what it meant to be a couple. After all, this was quite new, two people of the same gender openly establishing themselves as a couple instead of just "room-" or "housemates" or as ambiguous "friends". Societal norms were also being thrown out because two people of the same gender in a relationship could both be breadwinners. Household chores couldn't be divvied up along gender stereotypes. Even the norm of monogamy came into question as couples decided whether or not sexual fidelity truly mattered if emotional monogamy was all that they desired. After all, we were not in typical heterosexual relationships, therefore we didn't have to behave in the typical heterosexual way we were raised. So, people experimented and made choices based on what felt right for them.

As it should be.

You would think that with all the bullying and name-calling gay men suffer growing up, you would also think they would be the first ones to recognize it. Yet, in his coming out, the actor addressed the issue of "bottom-shaming" in the gay community, where men who prefer this role in sex are often looked down upon. One Facebook friend even asked his followers about "bottom-shaming" and if they had heard, witnessed, or even experienced it. And if so, was it other bottoms or tops (the ones who like putting it up you know where) who were doing it. 

I read the comments and unofficially tallied the results. About half had not heard, witnessed or experienced bottom-shaming and found the very idea to be divisive. In fact, a few were even repulsed that it occurred; "Good bottoms make good tops, and vice versa." "We need each other, why stoop to shaming?" The other half was divided roughly in half again saying it was other bottoms who did the shaming, while the other half had heard tops doing the shaming. (Note: this does not include any fantasy play where shaming is part of the scenario.)

There was no apparent consensus why the bottoms were shaming other bottoms; some seemed to think maybe they were jealous that some bottoms were getting more action? Then does this become a form of slut-shaming?

I could not understand why someone who prefers to top would shame the bottoms. After all, doesn't the top need a bottom? So, maybe it's an ego thing?

Interestingly, there was also a handful of comments where men remarked about being shamed for not enjoying anal sex, or for identifying as asexual. They were told they weren’t really gay or not even normal because they weren't sexually active enough. How much is enough? Who sets the rules and limits? Is there a committee somewhere?

And more importantly, why should it matter to anyone how active someone chooses to be or not to be?

When I was a bit more active on gay social media, okay, the apps, I saw countless references to ageism, racism and other '-isms.' "No one over 40, please." "No (insert race here). Not racist, just a preference." "No fats, no fems." There’s nothing wrong with a preference, but if you have to put it in writing, and advertise it, it becomes ageist, racist, or other-ist; like a sign "No (age/race/fat/fem) allowed."

I occasionally read a column written by an older gay man for older gay men who are adjusting to aging in a community that seems to sound the death knell for anyone over forty. One of his most recent columns focused on "slut-shaming." He wrote about all the negative comments directed at him regarding the prior column where he admitted that when he is not seriously dating someone, he sometimes seeks out hookups. The comments, which I couldn't read as they were sent privately, seemed to be coming from people in committed relationships deriding him for anonymous sex at his age. He's 53. As long as he and his partner are consenting and playing safely, what difference does it make to anyone else? Yet, so many were quick to comment/judge.

I am lost as to why all this shaming goes on in a community where many of us are still healing from hurts lingering silently under the surface and have overcome a lot of self-shaming during our own coming out process. According to many articles I read, bottom-shaming seems very pervasive among some segments of the community. There are multiple historical references where penetration by another male was used, or seen, as an act of submission, weakness, vulnerability, or defeat which might have something to do with the shaming. Or could we be reconnecting sexual positions to heteronormativity; the receptive partner must be the girl and therefore not a "real man." Misogyny, anyone? Internalized homophobia? Perhaps he who doth protest too much has something to hide.

I do realize this is a small segment of the community. Many of us have arrived at a mindset where we don't give a fuck who does what to whom as long as it's consenting and safe. Yet, this small segment seems to be quite "vocal" especially when leaving comments on articles and posts. Maybe they're being a bit brave hiding behind a keyboard. But, in all fairness, in the past when I participated more in community organizations, I actually witnessed some of the shaming.

I just don't understand why the life someone chooses to live should matter to anyone else as long as no other person is being harmed. Hasn't that been our argument all along? In the 1986 case Bowers v. Hardwick, the US Supreme Court decided to uphold Georgia's sodomy laws effectively policing our bedrooms denying us our privacy. The community was outraged. "Two consenting adults should be allowed to have sex how and when they want" became the rallying cry. So, why do so many of us still point fingers and shame others who are having sex how and when they want? Is it so they can feel better about themselves by appearing superior to someone else? Self-validation, perhaps? It comes off as hypocritical to me.

If we truly believe that our brothers and sisters should have the freedom to express themselves however they choose, even sexually, then we should honor their choices and simply STFU.