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For the love of balance

Stop.  Smile.  Breathe.

I usually end my blog with these three words but today I find it an appropriate way to begin.

Balance is not a new subject to this blog.  It is, however, a necessary reminder from time to time.  Especially when I approach and enter my busy season at my place of employment, a period that can very easily completely consume hours, brain cells and the fabric of life itself. During this period I become the bitch of the department (or perhaps I should say one of them,) but I do so willingly and often with a sense of challenge and a strange love (or addiction?) of its intensity.  The most important part of this yearly exercise is in remembering it will end along with the Memorial Day weekend.

Then we return to our regularly scheduled insanity and dysfunction.  Hey… it’s TV… that’s what we sign up for.

What’s important for me to remember on any given one-day-at-a-time is the balance that is required to remind myself that I am not my job.  I have a robust and beautiful home life, a magnificent husband and three examples of unconditional love in our animals.  These beings and the many, many extraordinary friends and partners that come with a fully robust fellowship of program have allowed me to build a level of gratitude and a complete picture of where it is I need to be physically and spiritually in order to maintain a level of sanity and enjoyment in this very short life span.

It is also important to remind oneself that the hours that may somehow feel too long or too many are, in fact, a choice I am making.  There really are no shackles that keep me tied to this or any job, this or any situation.  I need to always remember that the person in charge of the decisions made is me. If I am out of balance and feeling the strains or frustrations of within any area of my life I am able to look inward and take the appropriate actions or make the decisions that are necessary to put myself back into the proper frame of mind I require to remain happy.

We absolutely insist on being happy.

I have been blessed with the means, constant classroom (and teachers) to keep me sane and humble enough to remember that I must continually self-assess and review my character, my actions, my behavior and my environment.  I can push anything that I am as well as anything that I do into a new direction, often by considering actions before doing them (restraint of pen and tongue.)  It is also vital that I stop myself from the obsession of the mind as I live in a disease of perception.  If I am hungry, angry, lonely or tired (as the increased amount of hours could very well take me to) I am open to behavior that does not fit into the character I have learned I do not want to be.  In making the choices I do I accept the consequences (I cannot control the results) and remember that I am armed with tools that provide me the potential to allow me to be the best person I have ever been within them.

And again, balance is achieved, very simply if I continue to remember the mantra:

Stop. Smile. Breathe.

The truth about control

I am constantly reminded of powerlessness in my life.

Fortunately I take the cues that are provided and adjust whatever thinking I may be in to fit the reality of the situation.  That doesn’t necessarily mean I won’t fall back into behavior that is decidedly self-centered and slowly (sometimes quickly) taking me towards the next reminder of powerlessness.

As a child I created my own world.  I had my own country, my own movie studio, actors, actresses, music charts and all manner of award shows and rules.  In later years it would be pointed out to me that the need to create an environment comfortable for me may have indicated a discomfort with aspects of my real world as well as the beginnings of a solid need to control my environment.

Thus this control freak was born.

As a result of being who I am, I have often been conflicted with the difference between the need for control and the acceptance of powerlessness in my life.  To some degree there is a reason for making sure I am “in control” of the actions I take, or even the way I may think.  I don’t want to over-think the subject but it seems to me that I may want to be careful about exclaiming powerlessness over every aspect of my life.  But, at the same time, I feel it is important to remind myself about the importance of turning over the results.

In other words:  I am in control of my actions, what I have had to learn over time is that I am not in control over the results of the world around me.  Change is everywhere and constant.  I may always try to have a hand in what happens to and for me (as well as those around me) but in the grand scheme I am not able to see or determine the full picture of any situation.  If and when I do try that on for size I am in expectation and that, for whatever reason, doesn’t seem to ever work out for me.

Take for example my drive to work on this past Friday morning.  My action is obvious, my expectation was the early arrival.  I go in to my work at 6-6:30AM in order to have some peace and quiet and catch up with my desk work (a place I don’t get to see a lot of in a meeting filled work day.)  I took the action of rising early and making sure that I was mentally and physically prepared for another work day.  I got in my car and drove the path I drive 5 days a week to get to the destination.  On this day, however, I was reminded that I am not in control of everything even when it would feel that I am.  On Friday morning a car went through a red light on National as I traveled though my green light going west on Venice.

My car was hit and spun around ending up on the SW corner sidewalk.  Fortunately for one and all  (including both drivers) there was nobody on that sidewalk and neither of us was hurt.  Both were shaken up but the world continued with the changes I saw in front of me.  My path took a slight shift that had me filing police reports, towing my car with AAA, handling the check in at a body shop, filing my insurance claim and picking up my rental car.  I still made it to work before most would arrive at 9, proving even when experiencing powerlessness there is always a stitch of control within me.

I walked away from this example knowing that I am blessed in understanding that the changes and unforeseen circumstances that will always be a part of our world are a part of my life’s tapestry.  I accept that sometimes the world does not go according to my plan.  In fact it rarely does.  I cherish my moments of powerlessness and each time they are revealed I am more experienced in letting go of the results.

Control is not a bad thing unless it is your only way of thinking.  Control is not an evil word unless you need it like a drug.  Actions taken for growth and education in this world are pieces of control…. the trick for me is to remember that the action is part of the goal and the result is simply not something I can accurately predict, manipulate or determine.  I am happy, at some point, with whatever result I am provided.

Stop.  Smile.  Breathe.

I can do anything

When a soul is fear based and filled with shame the world looks like a wall that cannot be climbed.

For most of my life I have lived within some form of wall, real or imagined.  Slowly, but very surely, over time, I have started to become aware, ask for (and seize) the willingness to try, take necessary actions, in order to begin to scale these walls, big and small, one-by-one.

What I have learned from these accomplishments is the point of this blog post and the most prominent focus in my experiencing of life.

I can do anything… if I want to.

What’s weird is how I have come to believe and practice in this hope driven theory.  For many of the places I have denied myself access, the success story could have been as simple as remembering that my happiness and any result I may desire begins, without fail, in a decision. How many times have I told myself I cannot do or be something only to never try?  How often was it fear that shrouded my intended legacy and stopped me dead in my tracks without even allowing myself the option to try?

It then becomes important to remember that decisions and choices are nothing without the actions that must follow.

Action does not always result in success, but there is no chance whatsoever without the attempt in the first place.  Today I know that the actions I take to learn and grow always, without any fail, result in some form of success whether immediate or through failure.  Each and every layer of the onion peeled is a chance to give myself experience and knowledge previously unlearned.  None of it is possible if I do not take the appropriate steps towards learning.

When I remove my ego and ask questions the self-created (or society branded) walls will crumble or provide windows of light.  When I don’t ask questions, possibly pretending that I am already in the know I am stunting my growth for the sake of my vanity (or fear of judgment.)   I know so much more today than I did yesterday.  Even more than that over the last year and year before that.  With each question, every bit of research, and by the simple act of listening I have become a better man and a more capable friend, sponsor, teacher, worker and human.

For those of us who would stop short before recognizing or believing in our own talents… or the potential for growth where passion exists I would ask you to climb any wall you see.  If the wall feels too tall ask God for the strength to change your thinking.  If the wall is too long as God to open your eyes for answers.  If the negative voices are too loud make sure you ask God for some quiet so you can hear your own better judgment speak to you.

Having learned that I can do anything it becomes easier for me to tell you that you can as well.  But it is not all there is to the personal battle’s we face in this life.  It is hard to know what you want to do or be in this world at times… but never possible if you or anyone else dares to tell you that you aren’t able to do it.

If you feel this struggle, arrest the behavior, stop the thought process and create the means to change the negative habits that cause it.  Each time you find yourself not believing…

Stop. Smile. Breathe.

The map of choices

It’s important that I remember that I have the luxury of choice.

In every area of my life there will come the time when I begin to feel trapped.  I will believe I am “under obligation” to do this or that because of the consequence or ramification that would result if I were to stop.

This, by and large, is true.  But what does not jive in this type of theory is the fact that I am no more knowledgeable about the outcome of any situation than the next person.  I do not have psychic ability.  I am not able to predict what a consequence might be… although I sure as hell tend to convince myself otherwise.

There is an old theory I have held true through my years.  In it I find myself a massive over-thinker that will create the answer to any question where it is not provided.  This can be thoroughly dangerous if one is not living in a more spiritual and optimistic state of mind.  Through the lessons and actions I have taken over many years my life has become one of solutions over problems, but being human I am defaulted to creating worst case scenarios based solely on the fear of my unknown outcomes.  I have accepted this as a part of my “dis-ease” and I am on the medication of steps and service to work on this daily.

We call that the world of “what if.”  It’s an endless pit that doesn’t belong in anyone’s head…. much less vocabulary.

In that I have a proven track record of making very good decisions (usually after hitting the wall as the result of bad ones) I have started to learn that any choice I make is a good one and that the outcome of said choice is merely a consequence or result that must be handled for its benefit or the lesson it is there to provide me.

Over the years I have learned a great deal.  Most of the lessons have been partially due to what I always thought were mistakes.  But I come to the world in which I live today a better man than I’ve ever been.  I am smarter, more capable, more successful, a better friend, a good husband, a trustworthy advocate and employee and a man who has benefited from every single choice and it’s ramification.  I am strong and I am honest, more believable and better equipped to solve the problems I face AND make the choices laid out in front of me.  I see these choices as opportunities on a large map that spreads across a beautiful landscape and a wealth of experience both in what would be interpreted as positive and negative realms.  What is different about the person I am today is in intention and overall awareness.  I have come to know, very simply, that my intention will provide the right result in any decision.  Right, however, doesn’t necessarily mean it will be a happy or “good” result, it merely means that I will continue to learn and grow.

I almost hate to admit that my map holds a lot of choices that were less than magnificent in their immediate result.  But because of each one of them I have molded and shaped my path into a legacy.  I like who I am and that is possibly the best outcome to any series of choices I could ask for.  I am proud of what I am for others, which tells me that the choices I have made in the past have collectively been beneficial to help this soul be the best possible being in the world.

There will always be bad days.  There will always be times when I am feeling less than or judging myself harshly on what I perceive to be wrong about my character or behavior.  What has happened for me over time is I have been able to look at myself with less judgmental eyes.  I see that the person I have become is not what I have tended to believe others see.  This is simply no longer true in both the estimation and harshness I have held myself to as well as the perception that others might hold certain opinions as well.

The choices I currently make are honorable.  I seek to change the behaviors that do not work as well.  I choose to make sure that everything is for the right intention.  I make sure I am looking at a full picture and not towards something that benefits me only.  I am no longer concerned about the way others may feel, but my map has allowed me to come to a place where I shouldn’t have to.

Today’s choices are about recognizing what could help me in all aspects of my life and changing perception, opinion, reaction and habit.  No, it, like any other part of the real world, is not “easy.”  Yes, like the sentence that I opened this post with, it is always possible if I want it to be.

I need only remember to:

Stop.  Smile.  Breathe.

Being Spiritual while drawing lines

My life is an embarrassment of riches.

The only way to describe my experience is to compare it to a classroom.  Sometimes I am the teacher but in all cases I am open to being taught.  It is important to me that I remain open-minded because as soon as I have decided I know it all I will regress to places I have already been and know not to work.

Because I am in a classroom I am often available for allowing people to be whomever and whatever they need to be.  This, for the most part, allows me to see as much authenticity in others as can be revealed, although the level is completely up to them.  I know for myself, that my authenticity is imperative to achieve an honest result.  But with it I will be in constant self-evaluation to make sure my intentions are correct for the situation at hand.  Unfortunately this is not always understood, accepted or respected by those around me.  Because I am trying I have often found myself being taken for granted or even, at times, taken advantage of… whether that is the intention on the part of the others or not.  This is not the cry of a victim, however.  I have put myself out there and can only be responsible for myself, not any reaction I receive as a result.

As a result of growing and changing both personally and professionally I have found some matters a bit more difficult than others.  In this process I must continue to remain well-intentioned, patient and forgiving.  In the same situations, however, I have learned not to set myself up as a doormat,  and not to allow others to use an open nature as a means to establish their own power over me.  More important that that is to remember I am not afraid of power, either as displayed by others or in my own positions in life.  I honor and respect the power where it is established and because I have grown, respect it within myself as well.

Power does and should not have to hold a negative connotation.

This is also not to say that power should be an excuse for not continuing to be the most honorable that I can be.  It does not say I am better, more capable or in any way further privileged at the expense of another human being.  I would hate to become that person and my daily maintenance is built around reviewing my own behaviors and remembering that I am fallible and very, very human.  But because I am willing to look at myself and honestly amend behaviors with others I have often been open to my personality or characteristics being labeled as wrong, weak, or less than.

That could not be further from the truth.

Who I am and what I have become in this life is a miracle.  What I do with and for others is nothing less than astonishing in the grand scheme of the human playbook.  How I have turned the willingness to grow into a canvas of achievements and accomplishments through practice and honoring mistakes is something I would put on my headstone as the best part of the human and personality I have created.

With my growth, however, comes moments where I must stop and remind those around me that I am not any more or less human than they.  Each of us should look at our character and be proud of how we work with and for it.  Each should learn to draw their lines and not allow anyone else to define them however true or honorable the intention.  I am often not the person I will be defined as when someone does not like what I am doing.  I look at the situation and correct what I can, but I have stopped feeling the need to please each and every one because of a false need for approval.

My lines are drawn and that is NOT a negative.  It is, instead, a step in my path that takes me to higher places personally.  NOT higher in the sense of prestige, role or finance.. but more so in the sense that I am evolving in my quest to do and be the best that I can in the world around me.  I am, along with many others, accomplishing this goal.  I am looking forward in earnest to my continued role with others as a result.

Progress, not perfection.

Stop.  Smile.  Breathe.

Why coming out is not easy

I came out at the age of 25.  It was one of the scariest things I have done in my life because I knew absolutely everything in my world was about to change completely.  In hindsight I can easily say it was one of the pivotal points of my personal growth.  A place where honesty opened up avenues and, for the most part, the stress of lying started to shed its weight. It was where I began to understand the benefits of being an authentic human being.

But not without consequences.

On Friday night actress Ellen Page came out publicly.  For many of us it is a representation of another layer of the onion being peeled.  For others it was the object and focus of hate, ridicule or judgment.

“What’s the big deal,” some who don’t understand what this means would say.  “It was obvious to me for a long time,” said others who felt it easier to belittle the experience than applaud it.  Then, naturally, as is the case in a fear filled world, there were those who found yet another reason to condemn homosexuality while clinging tightly to their own perceptions of God’s word through a man-written and horribly misinterpreted book.  Homosexuals are going to hell.  Homosexuals are sinners.  Homosexuals don’t deserve the rights afforded other human beings.  We’re gross, we’re disgusting, we are perverts, we are monsters.

Is it any wonder it would be difficult to reveal the sort of honesty coming out does to the world?

I want to be angry at the “Christians” who cannot accept anyone other than what they believe themselves to be as worthy of God’s heaven or the rights of others here on Earth.  I want to turn around and condemn them as they do me.  Instead I have found myself questioning the motivation and wondering how it must be to let this sort of anger, fear and judgment cloud your true path to a clear and spiritual existence amongst other men and women who, on the inside are all exactly the same.

What are they afraid of?  What is it that they think is going to happen to them personally?  What is this definition of “Heaven” or “Hell” that paints such dire and difficult contrasts for interpretations of right and wrong?  Is your world so perfect that it warrants the pedestal such judgment alludes to?

Coming out was painful because it opens our world up to this sort of judgment.  To some degree it paints a target on our backs and allows those with weaker spiritual and personal character to point fingers and build up their own faux “moral” platform.  It is easier to feel better about oneself by drawing the lines in the sand that exclude those who are different to help fortify the walls that “protect” from the deep, dark, and psychological fears that separate.  Those who live within these walls will argue that but acceptance outside of parameters creates a painful and limited view of the full picture even the Bible writes about.

So I want to make sure I don’t do the same thing myself.

It is hard to come out because a lot of the world doesn’t get who we are.  They honestly don’t know that we are created with the feelings and inclinations that we have.  They don’t equate the attractions we experience as natural and the same as their own for whatever they desire.  They don’t understand because they don’t experience, and thus, I should always remember that it is the same for me with them.

For those who rely on their religion as a means of separation and judgment I must understand that I am not able to know where you are coming from.  I don’t feel that fear and I don’t hold that anger within me.  But instead of looking at you as something I must condemn (whether it is righteous or self-righteous justification), I ask MY God to forgive you and help you to find the peace that I have found in self-acceptance and authenticity.  I am happy, but not because I feel better than anyone.  I know I am not.

Being who I am is my business.  I am not doing so to please the world or to receive validation.  I do so because one day at a time I want only to be happy and fulfilled in MY skin.  I hope to be the most important one I truly can relate to (if possible) from here until the day I die.

Any time we set ourselves up to be judged it is difficult.  But if being honest with myself and feeling the truest sense of wholeness and completeness possible is the cost of this risk I know it was the right (albeit not the easiest) decision to have made.

Congratulations, Ellen.  You have done a justice for yourself and for many of us.  Enjoy the freedom.  Don’t take the judgement personally.

For those who will hate it we have no control over the dis-ease you are feeling about your own lives based on whatever decisions and standards you have set for yourself.  I wish you peace.  I wish you love.  I wish for you what I have found for myself.

Stop.  Smile.  Breathe.

What the HELL are they talking about?

For a lot of my life it has either been inferred or told to me that I was going to hell.

I suppose there was a time where I felt I was being maligned or judged harshly by what can only be described as information based on fear pointed at others with a need to build an accuser’s own sense of who they are.  After all, being told you are going to hell can be a bit of a buzz kill in a world so heavily bent on defining what is right and wrong based on the writings of Earthbound human beings and symbolic places where nobody has actually been.

Especially in “celebrity.”

Falling back on religion as a reason to publicly assign after-life lodgings on those who are different than you is pure and simple bigotry dressed up in theatrics and morality.  It’s even more ironic (and hypocritical) when it is accompanied by the condescension of friendship and “understanding.” for those who you are condemning.

“Some of my best friends are gay,” they’ll say, “but my bible tells me they will go to hell.”  And what exactly does that mean?  Does it mean that we will burn?  Is it merely an after-life segregation of the “chosen” judgmental “master race” from the rest of us?  Is hell a place that doesn’t include the judgment of others who need to insinuate that if you are not what they choose to be, you are less of a human being?

I am fine with going wherever they are not.

If Hell is to include the people I have had the honor to have met, befriended, enjoyed, admired, loved and emulated I can only see a pretty amazing and creative place.  Even if Hell were to be the evil, dark and negative destination so often parroted by the fearful throngs of believers I would tend to suggest that those who will attend would not only make the best of it, but decorate it beautifully, cater it with taste, entertain it with magnificence, educate with intention, feed the less fortunate amongst us, and heal those who may have encountered the judgment in life recently vacated.

The truth is Hell is a convenient theory.  It is a tool used to insinuate “authority” within fear-based opinion about homosexuality.  It is parroted endlessly by people who find it to be a righteous means to justify their narrow views and proclaim fellow humans as, essentially, unequal.  I do not wish to condemn or judge those who identify with religion. We are all created the same and merely educated differently.   I, like them, understand the need for faith.  I myself have searched for and found it.

What I don’t understand is the requirement in some minds to use faith to judge and separate, when It IS a much more useful tool in providing the means for service and love through understanding and acceptance of others.  Why would any religion’s God create man to be condemned?

Hell no longer frightens me because I don’t believe in judgment for the sake of self preservation.  I have finally become comfortable in my own skin and I am pretty sure wherever I go after this life will reflect the true nature of my being and soul in the eyes of a God that I know could be nothing but loving and forgiving.  And lest anyone who reads the bible forgets… we will all need to be forgiven in the end.

On that note I have learned to take what is dished out with a grain of salt and remember my favorite of the four agreements:  Don’t take anything personally: Nothing others do is because of you.  What others say and do is just a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering. (Thank you Don Miguel Ruiz)

Stop. Smile. Breathe.

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