Contradictions

Life is full of contradictions and many times it lays within ourselves due to societal pressure to conform, or an unwillingness to admit a truth to oneself.  In the process we bury the truth and create a an alternative truth; one that is not representative of what we believe or who we truly are.  Such personal contradictions can cause immense, and often times irreparable harm to our psyche and when manifested outward, can hurt those around us and also create an impression within others that is not who we truly are.

According to Wikipedia, a contradiction “consists of a logical incompatibility between two or more propositions. It occurs when the propositions, taken together, yield two conclusions which form the logical, usually opposite inversions of each other. Illustrating a general tendency in applied logic, Aristotle’s law of noncontradiction states that “One cannot say of something that it is and that it is not in the same respect and at the same time.”  Often times we ourselves become “something that is and that it is not in the same respect at the same time.”

When I look back upon my life as a closeted individual, it was full of so many contradictions because I was creating a façade to cover up my true essence; who I really was, due to my fears and insecurities related to my homosexuality.  This “covering up” process began way back in grade school.  I had always sensed something was different about me compared to my friends and classmates.  I could never really put my finger on it, as I was very young and didn’t know such things about gay and straight and all the other concepts that go along with it.  But inside I knew there was something inherently and profoundly different about me and it, even then, created some level of tension with myself.

As I got into Junior High School (now called Middle School), the “cover-up” really began in earnest since it was when puberty hits and feelings begin to stir inside and hormones start to flow.  I clearly knew then I was different as my hormonal urges were not being directed to the girls in my class, but to the boys.  This really frightened me and in the ‘70’s you just did not express such feelings outwardly, but then again, I was nowhere near the point of coming out so I just trudged along the way I was and buried feelings and created more contradictions within myself.

When I got to college, I felt a bit more liberated, as I was surrounded by new people, places and opportunities to explore my hidden orientation.  I began to “explore” my sexuality in clandestine settings, and obscure venues, with others of like mind.  At the same time I began to weave a conservative façade to cover up such “encounters” and present an image of myself that was not who I really was.  I began to espouse positions against abortion, homosexuality and generally embracing a somewhat hard line conservative political paradigm overall.  But inside I hated it.

I despised what I was outwardly expressing.  However, subconsciously, at times, I would espouse a much more liberal perspective on issues, my true perspective.  These contradictions did not go unnoticed, so much so that my roommate in college once told me, a number of times in fact, that he was my best friend, and that he knew me well but at the same time, he didn’t.  He would often tell me that I was a person of contradictions.

What really drove it home though was one night while we were partying, and we were quite drunk and high, he looked me and said, “you know, you are living in your own private Idaho.”  I looked at him and said, “what are you fucking talking about?”  Inside I KNEW what he meant.  He clearly had me pegged and was beginning to decipher and sift through the façade.

“Don’t let the chlorine in your eyes
Blind you to the awful surprise
That’s waitin’ for you at
The bottom of the blue blue blue pool.
You’re livin’ in your own Private Idaho.  Idaho.

Get out of that state
Get out of that state
You’re living in your own Private Idaho,
Livin’ in your own Private Idaho.”

I was in my own Private Idaho and I was beginning to jump into the pool.  I was awakening to the awful surprise of who I really was and became very aware of the contradictions I was living amongst, that I had created myself.  I lived in my own private Idaho for many years, but along the way I began to shed some of the contradictions, and began to align myself with who I was beginning in my late 20’s when I finally admitted to myself that I was gay.

I was not ready to take the complete jump off the cliff though and fully come out.  I continued living my life as a little conservative Nazi, espousing hateful positions and creating more inconsistencies within myself that drove me crazy.  My then sister-n-law, even told me once that she really didn’t like me at all.  That really hurt me and served to remove another tether of the life of contradiction that was tying me down.

Another example of my life of contradiction lays in the 80’s and early 90’s when the Amway business was the rage and I was duped into doing “the business.”  I was surrounded by ultra-conservative types and I felt it would be a good place to “cover up.”  However, with each function I went to and the more I hung around many of the people in “the business” I got more distressed and angry with myself that I was espousing such nonsense and cheering the admonitions of the evils of homosexuality by people on stage.  I continued this charade for many years, until a certain point when I said “enough” and just removed myself from such a blatant contradiction.

After this point, my life of contradictions and falsehoods continued for many more years until my late 30’s, when at 37, I took the plunge, jumped off the cliff and came out to friends, family, and work and professional associates.  It was the time when I cast off the life of contradictions I was living and began to realign myself with my true self, began espousing much more liberal perspectives politically, and socially, and rid myself of the repressive and oppressive Catholicism that was part of my contradictory existence.  Such a drastic realignment caused severe panic attacks and internal anguish, but I overcame it all, and have arrived at the person I am today.

When your life is a contradiction, the truth ultimately will prevail. Thank heavens I took control of my life and came out. Today, I have nothing to hide and will freely express and divulge anything about myself. One’s past is just that… the past… but you cannot deny it…. if you do, it will come back to bite you, such as the case with Federal Circuit Court Judge Bill Pryor, whose gay porn past has been uncovered and is a clear contradiction with his life today as a hateful, homophobic judge who is not cool with gays and lesbians walking the streets as free people. According to People for the American Way, Judge Pryor “would deny gay men and lesbians the equal protection of the laws. He believes that it is constitutional to imprison gay men and lesbians for expressing their sexuality in the privacy of their own homes and has voluntarily filed an amicus brief in the Supreme Court urging the Court to uphold a Texas law that criminalizes such private consensual activity.”

Clearly his contradiction has caught up to him, as mine would have as well, if I had not come out and evolved into the person I am today.  I look forward to my continuing evolution forward to becoming the person I am supposed to be, aligned with the power of the universe, channeling its energy to my creativity and true essence.

Are  you living in your own private Idaho?  Are you interwoven amongst so many contradictions and falsehoods to the point that you do not differentiate what is truth and what is not?  Do your friends and family dislike you for who you are and what you espouse because of your façade?  Then take the step out into the light!  Muster the courage to cast off your contradictions, and be who you were meant to be.  Life is way too short to waste it on useless cover-up and falsehood.  Be true to yourselves and just be yourselves and not worry about what people think.  You will overcome it all and be a much better person for it

Clarity of Purpose

 

There are moments in our lives when we sometimes wonder about our future and what it holds. If you are like me, I am sure you have wished for the ability to see things clearly and know if the decisions we are making are the correct ones. More often than not, however, we are enmeshed in uncertainly and we make what we feel is the best choice given the information available to us at a particular point in time or in the worst case scenario, we simply make no decision. We often lack the clarity of mind to truly know if what we are doing is the right course of action.

Clarity is the “clearness of appearance” or “clearness of thought or style.” Another definition is “the state or quality of being clear; transparency; lucidity.” It is a natural desire to be able to arrive at a decision in a clear, concise and transparent fashion, without any hidden diversions or pitfalls that will sway us from making the decision. We all know that this is not generally the case.

There have also been times when I have had the clarity to make a decision and know in my heart that it would be the right one. However, I lacked the will to follow through on the decision that I knew in a clear, concise fashion, would be the best option for me. What is it that prevents us from seeing particular situations in a clear, precise manner? What prevents us from following through on a decision that we know is the best one? How do we achieve the clarity of purpose to overcome our obstacles in order to achieve the personal greatness we so desire?

The answer lays in the “why.” If we do not know why we want something, we generally will not achieve the desired end. If we do not have a sense of why we are doomed to failure and a life of mediocrity. The why is that which will define the clarity of purpose we seek to achieve a desired goal and overcome the obstacles to realize that goal. The why is the drive; it is the dream, the vision of where you want to be. You need to visualize it and live it each and every day in your mind. See it in your head so much that your subconscious begins to recognize it as the reality instead of what can be. You must also BELIEVE that you can have your why. The universe will not deliver your why if it knows you do not believe. Faith and belief are integral components in the realization of the why and ultimate clarity of purpose.

I can look back upon my young 53 years and see many instances where not knowing why I wanted something impeded my movement forward. The why must be something personal and meaningful, and not some innocuous desire such as to be “financially independent.” WHY do you want to be financially independent? What is it that you would do with the wealth you have amassed that would drive you to overcome your obstacles?

The same can be said of being in the closet. You know you want to come out, but the fear of the unknown and not having a clarity of purpose prevents you from actually coming out and casting off your facade that you carefully and meticulously constructed for so many years. The why needs to be much more than “I want to come out.” You must think of what you would DO as an out individual. Think about how many people you could help being out and the support you could give to someone who is struggling with the same issues. You need to figure out for yourself what it would mean to you to be out of that dreary closet, living the life you so richly deserve. Create the why that will make you burn with desire and envision a clarity of purpose that shines brightly in front of you, no matter what is thrown before you in an attempt to divert you.

Define your why! Once you do, the how, the resources and the people to help you achieve your why will appear. Your faith and belief in something greater than yourself will attract the means to the end. Clearly there will be times when there will be a disconnect between where you are and where you will be, but you can’t think about the in between! Focus and keep doing what you need to, and your desired end will arrive when you least expect it.

We Are Not Islands That Stand Alone

 

We are born unto this world as unique individuals. As we grow older we are taught the requisite skills that induce us to leave our families and embark into the world on our own, and to live our lives. During our lifetime we make countless choices; both trivial and life changing. Many people go through life thinking they are in control of their destiny and that they are islands in a sea of people that stand alone and separate from the influence of others, and the forces of nature and the universe.

In reality, however, we are not islands that stand alone. We may be unique but certainly not fully independent. We are not self-sufficient. We do not exist in a vacuum. We must rely on employers to pay us so we can buy food, shelter, and care for our families. We also rely on others to provide services to us and to help with our day-to-day tasks.

When we have problems many people think they can work through them on their own. While many do, it is always easier when you have someone else to bounce ideas off and to get advice on what should or should not be done. A psychiatrist or some other professional many times can help us see things more clearly and understand options that we cannot realize because we are so enmeshed in the mechanics of the issue.

In a more spiritual sense, we sometimes need others to help us facilitate changes within ourselves that we cannot do alone. There are folks out there with special gifts and all we have to do is ask for help and the right facilitator will appear to do that which is required at a particular moment in our lives.

In my 20’s there was a time when I was so depressed over my sexuality and fast coming to the realization that I was gay. I knew deep inside that I was not destined to have the life that fairy tales are made of. There would be no wife, no kids, or any of the things that go along with the traditional concept of marriage and family. This wrought so much havoc on my psyche that I did consider the unthinkable; I would take my own life and end it all.

What made me change my mind? What was it that stirred inside that allowed me to think more clearly and to think about what I was about to do? Yes, one would say that we humans have the innate ability to reason and think but what force allows us to reason and think for ourselves? Evolution of the species is an option but it is much more than that. It is grounded in a concept that many people cannot understand or want to understand. It is the spirit within us and the connection to the powers of the universe that guide us toward the path we are supposed to take but only if we make a cognizant choice to awaken and want to make the right choices necessary to move us forward.

Looking back on this instance and others in my life I have awakened to the influences of others and know the unseen power of the universe has brought me to a safe landing in calmer ports. Evolving to where I am at this point in my life, I now realize that my life was being guided and watched over by benevolent forces that I could not see or understand. For that I am eternally grateful and will not disappoint those that have placed their faith and trust in my ability to make the right decisions necessary to move forward to become the complete person I am supposed to be.

Many people never awaken to the power to change their own lives by tapping into a higher stream of consciousness. It is the power that induced me to not take my own life and eventually come out and not live a lie any longer. It is the power that gave me the courage to dispel most aspects of my fabricated life from spirituality to politics to how I perceived others in the context that was molded by someone else’s interpretation of how I should live my life. I awakened to the possibilities and the many opportunities in life only because I realized that I did not exist independently of the force of the universe that binds us together and creates a cohesion among us to do great things.

Free your mind to explore things that you never thought to explore. Delve within yourself with the help of capable facilitators that have gifts to unlock that which you cannot unlock on your own. Decide to travel to other people’s islands and get a feel for what others think and do and align yourselves with like-minded islands to create an unstoppable force of nature that can withstand any calamity or adversity that may arise.

No, we are not islands that stand alone.

Discover Who It Is That Follows You

I am currently reading a book by DLuis Meyer entitled, “Coming Out in New York City.”  As I was chugging along through the book, I came to a chapter where DLuis’ main character talks about the feeling of being followed and how he would turn around and there would be no one there.  He eventually comes to the conclusion that it was HE that was following him; his own persona was in pursuit.

As I continued to read, I had to put the book down and reflect upon this statement that DLuis made.  A light went on inside of my head and I realized that maybe I was supposed to read this book now, at this point in time, because it truly meshes with what I am currently experiencing at the moment, in this journey of self-discovery and enlightenment that I am on.  I have had the book for literally a couple years now, but never read it.  One day, I picked it up from a pile of unread books, from the bottom of the pile in fact, and began reading it.  I have been enmeshed with the many messages of personal growth and self-discovery that DLuis’ main character experiences in his journey of coming out.

This book and my interest in the character’s personal reflections certainly segues into what I have been experiencing of late.  I have had an intense compulsion within my gut to broaden my self-reflection and discovery to a more intense level, through meditation and reparative healing (a.k.a. past life regression).  I have enlisted the guidance of two well know community leaders that specialize in each of these areas and will soon begin this new journey to discover who it is that follows me.  I believe it is the many manifestations of my very soul that have manifested in human form through the ages that are still with me in some form or fashion that guide my decisions; whether for good or bad, they are still with me.

Why this interest in discovering who follows me?  What purpose will it serve in this current form to know who my soul has been in the past?  I have always had a desire to delve within through meditation but never really gave any serious thought to reparative healing and how it would help to answer many questions I have or explain why I do what I do or have the feelings I have.  It is the pursuit of more enlightened thinking and an awakening of my consciousness that leads me to this next level of self-discovery and reflection and hopefully to connect things together, not necessarily to change how I am but to more fully understand how I am and what I do.

I firmly believe our souls are in a perpetual cycle of growth and evolution. It manifests repeatedly in order to fulfill a mission that may have been unfulfilled. To learn a lesson that was unlearned, or to impact someone’s life that was not impacted. For whatever reason, our lives are not our own. They are not a happenstance occurrence in the universe.  However, while we are living the current manifestation, some of the issues we experience can create undue confusion and concern, until the day we awaken and realize that it was all part of a grand scheme of existence and overcoming challenges that transcend many of our human existences.

In order to more fully explain what I am talking about, I shall provide some examples, some of which I have never told to anyone, not even my closest confidants but I feel it necessary to now divulge some of these issues I have faced in my life because I now realize that much of what I was doing was clearly the residual remnants of lives gone by.

First, I have always had an intense sexual drive, even in my youngest days before I knew what sex was all about.  Things would stir in me that I could not explain.  Sex and all its consequences have been a very big part of my life,and still is, and it has created situations that could have seriously jeopardized my reputation in my budding career and  with other people and how they looked upon me.  It was at one point in my life an addiction where I could not control what I was doing and the only thing on my mind was getting off wherever and however the method would be.  It caused me to not focus on things I should have been focusing on and created such a meandering, helpless feeling within, that it almost destroyed me.

I always thought this was directly related to my being gay and repressing my true identity for so long, that it created unhealthy sexual practices that could have seriously impacted my life.  But looking back on those days now, I can see it was much more than that.  I firmly believe that one of my past manifestations was a very sexually aggressive person and their sexual drive has carried over to this current form.  Maybe they were also a very homophobic persona who is now learning what it was actually like to be queer and what trauma they created in other people’s lives.  Who knows.

Another example I can pinpoint is that how the natural environment and its power has a draw upon me that settles my mind and and relaxes me, and I spiritually connect with being in the woods, listening to a stream, the birds, watching deer romp and all that comes along with it.  Could I have been at one time a Wiccan prince or princess?  A witch maybe?  Who knows.

A third example is my writing.  I love to write, and I seem to draw upon a power that brings forth words and thoughts from my head to the computer or paper upon which I am writing.  I myself, sometimes am in awe of what comes forth from my brain and say, “that certainly is not me that is writing this.”  Could I have been a writer in a past life, who wishes to continue that practice in this life?  Who knows.

These questions, along with some others, have gnawed at me for years and years, and created such anxiety and blissful peace within me simultaneously.  I believe we all need to heal and repair ourselves and reconcile the many components of our past lives that are carried forward into this current form.  My goal in doing this more intense self-reflection is not necessarily to change what I do or what I am, as I have learned to live and deal with much of what I have been challenged with, but it is more to understand it all and tie it together in order to move forward with what I need to do with the rest of the years I have.

We all must reach into our past, the past that we cannot see or comprehend, in order to discover who it is that follows us, impacting our lives, and that which has to be overcome in order to move forward in this current manifestation of our existence.

I would encourage you to delve deeper into your psyche and try to understand what it is that makes you tick.  Awaken yourselves to the possibilities and keep an open mind.  Yes it might be scary.  I certainly have some apprehension in doing what I am about to do, but I feel it is a necessary and logical step in my progression forward to becoming the best person I can be, and to be the person I was born to be to its fullest.

Ignite Your Passion

Throughout the course of history, the visions of great men and women before us who facilitated change in our lives for the better had one overriding characteristic in common while pursuing their aspirations. They were passionate about what they believed in. They set aside all risks and overcame many obstacles to achieve their desired result. Their passion for achieving their mission was always burning inside them. It was the source of energy to fuel their fires to forge ahead.

When someone is ignited with passion you can see the energy in their eyes. A passionate person sets aside all fear and blazes a trail for others to follow and does not look back and second guess their life’s choices. Their vision is their mission; their singleness of purpose. It is through their passion that others are swept up in the excitement of the passionate person’s objective. The passionate person is able to create an environment in which others easily enjoin themselves to the vision of what can be and willingly participate in the execution of the plan to bring the vision to fruition.

There are two types of passion; negative and positive. Negative passion is one that is grounded in tearing people down in order to lift others up. Negative passion is grounded in self-centeredness and ego, and the desire to control others. Negative passion does nothing but to create division and friction in order to fulfill an ill-conceived vision grounded in malevolence.

The forces of negative passion are hard at work to prevent the fulfillment of equality and justice for all in this great nation. Daily we see malevolent passion at work through the subjugation of queer Americans and other minorities to second class status with passage of discriminatory legislation and constitutional amendments, and legislation that makes it much more difficult to exercise one’s right to vote, without undue restriction. The right to privacy and choosing what is best for oneself is also under attack by those grounded in the fulfillment of malevolent ends.

Conversely, positive passion is grounded in lifting people up and creating an environment of equality and justice. When one is positively passionate, their vision is on the welfare of others and the desire to create unity and cohesion for the betterment of society as a whole. The vision is one that is grounded in benevolence and love for other human beings. Focus is on human dignity and trusting individuals to make choices that are best for them and encourages people to be who they were born to be.

Ignite your passion and ground it in positive energy to work for the betterment of society and to achieve equality and justice for all throughout this great country. Discover what drives you forward and excites you and sets your spirit on fire. Channel it toward whatever you feel is best for you.

We must also be cognizant that different people will have different levels of passion for what they believe and we must respect all individual efforts and support each other despite our difference of opinion and choice of method. If your passion compels you to simply contribute to an organization that works toward equality and you wish to defer your personal efforts to that organization to work on your behalf, then contribute whatever you feel is appropriate to match your passion level. If you desire to channel your passion through more vociferous means, then become an activist and shout your message freely and loudly to all that wish to hear it and do not fear repercussion, ridicule or admonishment by others for exercising a more vocal approach.

Regardless of how you wish to express your passion, do whatever is necessary to ignite your passion to a level you are comfortable with and that drives you forward to induce benevolent change. Society depends on passionate people grounded in positive energy to change the world for the better.

Have you ignited your passion? If not, what will it take for you to create the spark to set it on fire to burn brightly inside of you? Think about your life and where you are versus where you want to be. What will it take for you to set your passion on fire to achieve the person you want to be? Search within yourself and you will find the answer!

Create Your Reality

Each of us has a personal “reality” in which we live and function.  However, we do not exist in a vacuum; we are all part of a larger community of humans and we must share our reality with other people who may intrude their own realities on ours and attempt to impose their will and their perspective of reality on us.  Unfortunately, many relinquish their unique reality and succumb to the influence of others and relegate themselves to the abyss of failure and mediocrity by simply “playing it safe”, becoming a “creature of the commonplace,” and a “slave to the ordinary.”

Throughout the history of America, there have been individuals who have blazed their own trails and refused to allow someone else’s reality and view of the world to become their own.  The American patriots of the Revolution did not allow the oppressive reality of the Colonial British Empire to be theirs.  Those Americans who forged west to unknown territories did not succumb to someone else’s reality and remain in the east due to the ridicule and admonitions of others to remain and not put their lives in jeopardy.  The great civil rights leaders of the 1960’s refused to remain part of a society that did not recognize them as equals and rose up and created their own reality through civil disobedience and challenged many of the very foundations of our Republic and established societal mores.  The sexual revolution of the 60’s and 70’s cast off an imposed Victorian reality of sex and redefined how people functioned and lived in their relationships.

Today’s queer rights movement is no different.  There are those who wish to impose their hard line reality upon the LGBTQ community and force us to live separate and apart from the rest of society simply because we do not adhere to the old fashioned “one man, one woman” reality of marriage and relationships.  There are also those from within the queer community who do not wish advocates to “rock the boat” and and not be too “in your face” about equality and instead to work within the system and through politically correct entities that don’t really have the movement’s best interest at heart.

Which do you wish to be?  Are you beholden to your circumstances and the influence of others or do you reject the influence of others and believe that it is the interpretation of our circumstances which determine our reality.  Do you succumb to the abyss of failure and mediocrity and simply follow others and do what you are told and not rock the boat and play it safe or do you shout as loud as you can about injustice and blaze your own trail shaping change to fit your own reality and view of the world?

For a very long time I was one of those who remained in their closet and was someone I was not; living a life of quiet desperation and allowing society to dictate how I should live.  I did not think I could ever be an out and proud queer person living a life that was mine and not subject to someone else’s reality.

We are no different than those in history that came before us.  We must choose to be different and cling to our unique reality and interpret our circumstances in a way that does not repress us and hold us back.  We must forge ahead and do what our gut, our very soul, demands that we do, and ignore the naysayers from both outside and within the queer community.

Life is full of many forks in the road and at each fork there is a path that others take simply because it is the well worn path; the one trodden by many; the safe route. There are also those people that amass at each fork in life and tell us to take the safe route and guide us to choose the well worn path.  These are the same people who tell us to not “rock the boat” or get too “in your face” about equality and working toward liberty and justice for all.

Then there is the other path that is less traveled and is less secure and full of potential pitfalls and unknown trials and tribulations.  There are very few people encouraging us to take the path less traveled and therefore, we must muster our own courage, ignore the masses, and decide to buck established thought paradigms and be true to ourselves and do what we feel is best for us and proceed down the less worn path.

When we can decide to listen to the voice inside that tells us to not listen to others and choose what is best for us, we begin to live our personal reality that was forged by forces unseen, and those working on our behalf in a world that we cannot relate to in our physical being.  We simply have to make a choice to follow our unsung songs that have already been written and are simply waiting for us to decide to sing them the way they were meant to be sung; in our own way.

Courage – A Postscript

courage-sheet

On this 4th of July, I once again reflect upon “courage.” Courage comes in many forms and means different things to each individual.

America was born with a force of courage that overcame the oppression of the British Empire. The colonialists took up arms against England to fight for what they believed was right and just. Their freedom to think, to worship and speak whatever they wished drove them to sacrifice all that was near and dear to them. They took a chance and fought the war of independence with no holds barred. The American Revolution fostered an experiment in freedom and liberty that still thrives to this day, despite our shortcomings and failures to live up to the inherent promise of America of life, liberty and justice for all.

On a more personal level, I have had my moments of courage, that allowed me to shake free of my shackles of oppression, albeit self-imposed. As a closeted individual, my courage was muted. Deep inside I wanted to declare my independence from my life that was a façade. I so very much wanted to be the person I was meant to be but because of societal pressures, and fear, I remained entombed in a world I did not want to be in and continued to live a lie and was not true to the person I really was. I finally mustered the courage and came out and began to cast off my shackles of oppression that were preventing me from expressing my true individuality. The day I came out was my own personal American Revolution.

A much more recent moment of courage is related to my departure from my job of 20.5 years as the City Clerk of the City of Oneonta. Up until about 2.5 years ago, I was quite content living within the secure world of local government, enjoying the paid holidays, vacation, sick time and other benefits such as health insurance and the periodic travel to conferences. However, there came a moment in time when those feelings I felt when I was getting ready to come out came back. I began to feel restless, unfulfilled and all around unhappy with the situation I was in.

On May 10th, I once again mustered the courage I needed and declared my independence and tendered my resignation. It truly was a liberating feeling and one that I will not forget very soon. I put into action a series of decisions that will shape my destiny for years to come, and will take me in directions I never imagined while living within my secure world in City Hall.

Leaving my job took courage but there have been much more courageous acts undertaken by many people, and by one who still holds a special place in my heart even after her death 41 years ago. I think of my grandmother who came from Italy, with 3 young children to rejoin my grandfather who came to America 2 years prior. She left her homeland knowing full well she would never see her mother or her sisters ever again.

I think of what I have done — leaving my job after 20.5 years. Yes, that did take some courage, but my leaving my job pales in comparison to my brave grandmother and the courage she mustered within her to leave her secure world in Italy, and to seek a better life for her and her family in America. She is ever present in my consciousness, and I will honor her courage by doing what I need to do to be successful in whatever I undertake in the coming months and years.

What have been your moments of courage? What are you facing now that requires you to muster up courage like you never have before to achieve personal greatness? Think about someone in your past that meant a lot to you and put yourself in their shoes and just imagine what they must have been thinking and ultimately experienced because they had a desire for something better. What is it that burns inside of you that will force you to take a leap of faith and find the courage you need to move yourself beyond what is holding you back?

Don’t hesitate. Don’t look back. Don’t second guess yourself and be true to what is important to you. Don’t let life and opportunities go by because of fear and not mustering the courage you needed to achieve something better in your life. Do whatever you need to do to be true to yourself and will make you happy. Make a decision and just do it.

Equality Won – Gay Marriage Victories

America took a great stride toward fulfilling its inherent commitment to equality. On June 26th, the United States Supreme Court issued two very important gay rights rulings that nullified the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and Proposition 8. The court found DOMA unconstitutional on equal protection grounds and determined those petitioning the court to sustain Prop 8 did not have “standing” to do so and let the 9th Circuit decision stand.

DOMA being declared unconstitutional, brings to an end a very long fight that finally brings fairness and equity to those same sex couples legally married in that they now are accorded all the federal benefits of marriage that are available to heterosexual couples. The dismissal of Prop 8 by the Supreme Court restores the right to marry in CA, bringing the number of marriage equality states to 12.

While we can bask in the glow of victory momentarily, we must take up the battle tomorrow, as we still have 38 states that do not recognize LGBTQ Americans as equals, and legally discriminate against them due to the constitutional bans on same sex marriage, and are denied access to many rights and privileges straight Americans are entitled to. Our transgender brothers and sisters are also still persecuted and many states deny gay couples adoption rights, hospital visitation rights, and other rights and privileges that straight couples take for granted.  There is much work yet to be done before ALL Americans are equal.

I am confident that the freedom to marry will come to all states in the union. The Supreme Court found DOMA unconstitutional on equal protection grounds, and the court also cited Loving v. Georgia, which essentially means state constitutional bans on same sex marriage would not pass Supreme Court muster either. It is only a matter of time before marriage equality and full and equal access to all the rights and privileges accorded to straight married couples by the federal government are enjoyed by all Americans.

The beacon of freedom and justice shines a bit brighter throughout America after these court rulings. America certainly is a more perfect union because of the court’s historic decisions. The Supreme Court took a monumental step toward protecting the freedoms of gay and lesbian Americans. However, we have a long way to go and we will not relent or become complacent in our efforts to continue to work toward achieving America’s promise of liberty and justice for all for ALL Americans.

Insane Courage

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I recently saw a post on Facebook that impacted me in a way that I didn’t think about when I first saw it.  However, when I started to think about it more and related it to my life in its current form, it became an amazing revelation.  The post from Facebook, “All you need is 20 seconds of insane courage and I promise you something great will come of it.”

As most of you know I have recently resigned my position as City Clerk for the City of Oneonta.  My last day will be July 12th.  After thinking about this quote I saw on Facebook, I realized that it took all but 20 seconds to go into the City Manager’s Office and give him my resignation – 20 seconds!  That 20 seconds it took to give him my letter of resignation has resulted in a raging fire of motivation and excitement that would never have happened if I did not muster up those brief moments of insane courage to do what I needed to do and what I had been thinking about doing for so long.

While I was undergoing the agonizing process of deciding to leave my job that has provided me with that false sense of security we all have from being somewhere for so long, I had at the same time, been in discussions with Wrestling Superstars Live (WSL) about becoming it’s “Charities Initiatives Coordinator” with the ultimate position being the “Director of Live Events.”  That decision to become part of WSL, solidified my decision to leave my day job, and venture forth to uncharted areas and a totally new direction for my life.  Twenty seconds was all it took to begin that new direction.

I will always remember the day I resigned.  It is emblazoned in my memory now forever.  It was like someone was behind me pushing me forward to do it.  A voice kept saying “It is time.  It is time.  Do it now.”  The compulsion to get up out of my chair and bring my letter into the City Manger was incredibly intense; a feeling unlike I had ever experienced before and one that I could not resist no matter how much I tried.  I know I was not alone in my office that day.  There were forces beyond my cognizant awareness that were pushing me forward to do what I have known I had to do for a very long time.

We must always put faith in forces unseen, and to trust our intuition.  Our intuition is grounded in the universe and it’s incredible power to change the world, but more importantly our own small piece of the world for the better.  The missing link to actually changing the world is our desire to accept the power and to tap into it with no holds barred.

Life is full of risks and pitfalls but our fear of failure and trying to prevent adverse impacts on our lives from taking a risk will doom us to a life of mediocrity and listless ambition.  Take charge of your lives and heed the internal voices that compel you to do something outside of your comfort zone.  Do not settle for a life less than what you deserve.

Will others try to instill you in a sense of doubt?  Yes.  Will others try to play on your fears, and make you feel guilty and have second thoughts about your decision?  Yes.  Should their opinion matter when it comes to your life and your happiness?  The answer is a resounding NO.  Repel these people, and do not listen to them, no matter how much or how loudly they proclaim your foolishness.  Do what is in your heart, as it is what is best for you.

We are only on this Earth a short while to make a difference.  Do not allow yourself to be swayed by the opinion of others because rest assured, if you do listen to them you will eventually be an old person looking back on your life with a lot of regrets for not following your heart and blazing your own trail to greatness instead of living someone else’s expectation of what you should be.

Make a decision that is for your benefit.  Do not let that important and very pivotal 20 seconds pass you by and not take the opportunity that lays within it to change your life beyond your wildest imagination.

Leap of Faith

How many times in our lives do we hear people say to us and others, “just have faith and it’ll all work out.”  What is faith?  There are many definitions, but for the purpose of this essay faith, as per Merriam Webster, is a “firm belief in something for which there is no proof (2) : complete trust.”  Because faith is such an elusive concept not grounded in fact and cannot be proven, it is hard for many to grasp and put into practice.  The daily grind of life, many times, can wear down any semblance of faith we may have to endure the most trying of times.

I would have to say that throughout my life, I have had a varying degree of faith; in myself, in religious entities, politicians and in other people generally.  While I have had many breaches of faith, and moments of self doubt and have been disappointed in the faith I had in people in whom I placed a certain degree of trust, I can say with a relative degree of confidence that I have always been a faithful person.  Even in my darkest moments, I clung to a belief in an unseen power within myself; one that could ultimately lift me out of whatever predicament I found myself in.  It is such leaps of faith that guided me through many difficult times and which will sustain me in any future moments in which a leap of faith will be necessary to  reach the next plateau.

Life changing decisions usually involve a leap of faith in order to make them.  I made one when I came out, 15 years ago now, which created immense momentum forward in my journey of self introspection and growth, culminating in the person I am today; an advocate, activist and proud queer male, not afraid to express his feelings about issues of the day and to work toward equality for all, without fear of repercussion.

I have recently taken another HUGE leap of faith in myself and my abilities, and arrived at a life changing decision; a decision which many people would not even dare make or dream of making.  After 20+ years working for the City of Oneonta, as its City Clerk, I tendered my resignation, effective on a mutually agreed upon date sometime in the middle of July.  I had anguished over this decision for literally a number of years, before finally taking the leap of faith to follow through with what I knew I had to do to move ahead in my life.

Change is never easy, but sometimes we must muster the courage within and do that which our internal inspiration compels us to do.  I see this as a bold life changing decision that will open many new opportunities for me, and yet to some, may seem like a crazy, suicidal action.

However, as is the case with water, if it does not circulate and move and get refreshed it stagnates and begins to stifle life and creativity.  Unfortunately, I had begun to stagnate and I felt the need to pursue more a more creative venue or venues in which to function.

Life is a book and chapters must end, and alas, it was time to close this chapter and move on to the next.  I look forward to the chapters yet to be written and the many wonders of life that await me.. I do not want to be 20 years out, at age 72, wondering what could have been if I hadn’t made the decision to leave my post.  My gut compelled me to move on and choose a new path.

What issue are you facing at the moment that requires a leap of faith?  Are you agonizing over a decision that must be made in order to complete yourself?  If you are, I encourage you to muster every bit of strength you can in order to propel you forward past your anguish and fear, and to make the decision you need to make to clear the path in order to continue your journey forward in life.  If you do not, you will be stuck at the fork in road like I was for many, many months, agonizing over whether or not to make the decision I knew I needed to make.

You deserve to be happy.  Happiness and contentment is derived from doing what you know is best for yourself.  Staying in a situation that you do not want to be in is not healthy and will cause undue stress and take years off your life.

Have faith in yourself and make the decision that is right for you!  Find your leap of faith that will clear your path and help you choose which one to take at the fork in the road. Do it today! Do not hesitate. Once you make your decision, do not look back. Do not second guess yourself, as that will only delay your personal growth forward unnecessarily.