Thursday, October 28, 2010

how does it feel

 Once upon a time you dressed so fine
You threw the bums a dime in your prime, didn't you ?
People'd call, say, "Beware doll, you're bound to fall"
You thought they were all kiddin' you
You used to laugh about
Everybody that was hangin' out
Now you don't talk so loud
Now you don't seem so proud
About having to be scrounging for your next meal.

How does it feel

How does it feel
To be without a home
Like a complete unknown
Like a rolling stone ?

my friends pictured above have known me since 1978 or so. they represent what is good about our generation as well as my youth- smart, funny, hardworking, talented, and with huge and kind hearts. i am sincerely humbled when i consider all the distances they have traveled in this life while still living in one big-shouldered city. we had dinner last sunday and  my life took an unforseen turn.

i am smack dab in the middle of a change of heart. not sure how i know this, or how i actually mean this, but i still know this is the truth. i have been seeing so many people from previous times in my life. they are all sweet, wonderful people who have been living life on its own terms and are doing the best they can. i love them for this probably more than i loved them before. mostly because i am able to love them now in ways i never knew how previously.

here i am walking an ancient labyrinth and retracing the cave drawings i encounter. there is joy and freedom in this for me. i am actually connecting with the power to grow up and the desire to do so. no matter my age. no matter the lack of grace, it is the desire and the ability- not to mention the need- that prods me onward.  i am not sure where i am headed next, but i know i am going and with anticipation.

this time away from my daily routine has done something i wasn't sure i needed. it has confirmed for me that i okay. i measure myself next to my past and i feel engaged and empowered. this feeling may last a week or a decade, but it feels so freeing that it is not of consequence today.

i love my friends. they hold my history in their hearts and minds. they remind me who i was and who i am. i need to be reminded of all this as i sometimes forget who i have been and only see who i am.

i am posting a version of this song from one of my favorite current bands- anberlin. this cut is happy-go-lucky, easy and breezy and helps me wanna bop my head back and forth. it mirrors how i am feeling today.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

pema chodron on living from the heart

Ani Pema Chödrön was born Deirdre Blomfield-Brown in 1936, in New York City. She attended Miss Porter's School in Connecticut and graduated from the University of California at Berkeley. She taught as an elementary school teacher for many years in both New Mexico and California. Pema has two children and three grandchildren.

While in her mid-thirties, Ani Pema traveled to the French Alps and encountered Lama Chime Rinpoche, with whom she studied for several years. She became a novice nun in 1974 while studying with Lama Chime in London. His Holiness the Sixteenth Karmapa came to England at that time, and Ani Pema received her ordination from him.
Ani Pema first met her root guru, Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, in 1972. Lama Chime encouraged her to work with Rinpoche, and it was with him that she ultimately made her most profound connection, studying with him from 1974 until his death in 1987. At the request of the Sixteenth Karmapa, she received the full bikshuni ordination in the Chinese lineage of Buddhism in 1981 in Hong Kong.

Ani Pema served as the director of the Karma Dzong, in Boulder until moving in 1984 to rural Cape Breton, Nova Scotia to be the director of Gampo Abbey. Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche gave her explicit instructions on establishing this monastery for western monks and nuns.
Ani Pema currently teaches in the United States and Canada and plans for an increased amount of time in solitary retreat under the guidance of Venerable Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche.
Ani Pema is interested in helping establish Tibetan Buddhist monasticism in the West, as well in continuing her work with western Buddhists of all traditions, sharing ideas and teachings. She has written several books: "The Wisdom of No Escape", "Start Where You Are", "When Things Fall Apart", "The Places that Scare You", "No Time to Lose", "Practicing Peace in Times of War" and most recently "Taking the Leap - Freeing Ourselves from Old Habits and Fears". All are available from Shambhala Publications.

Monday, October 25, 2010

watching the colors change

~ Autumn, the year's last, loveliest smile. ~

this october has seemed to be one of the more golden ones in my memory. there have been many many beautifully warm days. the colors came early in september in the mountains, but in denver as well as here in chicago, there are massive natural displays of autumn color. the trees, the skies, the warmth, the vibe has been spectacular and memorable.

just like this, life is evolving and i am evolving as best i can to keep up. i am reminded here that i am remembered, and that it is with laughter and joy. i don't necessarily see myself like this. but this is how i am seen and this is as much truth as my own perception. go figure.

dinner and some fun with friends last night, a friend tonight, tomorrow, and the next. each day, no doubt, will peel back another layer of hidden treasure and light a corner of my soul. i loved. i didn't really remember that i loved. i still love. i didn't think myself capable. i didn't think.

Why Leaves Change Colors

If you are lucky, you live in one of those parts of the world where Nature has one last fling before settling down into winter's sleep. In those lucky places, as days shorten and temperatures become crisp, the quiet green palette of summer foliage is transformed into the vivid autumn palette of reds, oranges, golds, and browns before the leaves fall off the trees. On special years, the colors are truly breathtaking.
How does autumn color happen?
For years, scientists have worked to understand the changes that happen to trees and shrubs in the autumn. Although we don't know all the details, we do know enough to explain the basics and help you to enjoy more fully Nature's multicolored autumn farewell. Three factors influence autumn leaf color-leaf pigments, length of night, and weather, but not quite in the way we think. The timing of color change and leaf fall are primarily regulated by the calendar, that is, the increasing length of night. None of the other environmental influences-temperature, rainfall, food supply, and so on-are as unvarying as the steadily increasing length of night during autumn. As days grow shorter, and nights grow longer and cooler, biochemical processes in the leaf begin to paint the landscape with Nature's autumn palette.

you can read the rest of "why  leaves change color" here

Friday, October 22, 2010

will you still love me tomorrow

finished packing this morning and will be heading to chicago after work. i go there every couple of years just to clear some of the cobwebs out of my head. i lived there until 1986 and met the individuals who really shaped much of my adult brain (what little i had then). i moved there in 1974 and spent the next 12 years immersed in a culture and a city that still stirs memories.

the fact that i have been living in denver 20 years seems quite unbelievable. this city has been very good to me. it has helped me find grounding and stability - both emotionally and financially. my health has really thrived. but for as long as i can remember, i have always missed the array of "communities" and diversity that Chicago boasts- culinary, the arts, jazz, classical music, theatre- and i have especially missed the matter-of-fact honesty and up-front friendliness of midwesterners.

so i will immerse myself into an updated version of this city once again. i have plans for 6 of the 9 nights i am there. dinner, 2 plays, 2 parties, etc.. much, much more than i normally do in a week. plus i am attending a conference for work and have 4 full days of activities with that. i will be learning much more about opiate replacement therapy- i.e. methadone, suboxone- and the parameters and pitfalls of that therapy. this is the godfather of all harm reduction models as hiv and hep c are understandably spread through the sharing of needles. reducing that particular practice by individuals indeed cuts back on the chances of infection as well as the wear and tear that iv drug use takes on a persons body, mind, and soul.

iwill be staying at my best friend's condo on north lake shore drive. i am still considering a last minute cancel of my hotel downtown for the 3 nights of the conference and just commuting from lakeview. it could save about 1k and be less transient for me. i need to make a decision today. but i know i am going to have some really big moments that my heart opens a bit more this week. my friends there have really stuck by me during the darkest and most difficult times i have had. of course, they did not have to be around me either, which i am sure has an influence. 

no doubt i will post once or twice from there. there are many giggles and ghosts that still swirl around me there. and i hope i will remind myself and my hometown friends that some things really get better with time.

Monday, October 18, 2010

a chemical romance

there was a boy who spent a lot of his time running. he had been running for as long as he could remember. and if you asked, he would be hard pressed to tell you when it really began. he knew that he was different and part of him thought that was special and another part of him viewed himself as revolting. but his libido and his chemical makeup consistently created urges that propelled him forward as a sexually active youth who could be considered deviant.

he left home at 16 because the battle inside was too much to bear feeling isolated and trapped in his suburban existence. just like the lou reed song directed, he had to take a walk on the wild side in order to breathe. he ran to the nearest urban mecca he could find. he had already been scoping it out and knew there were similar vibratory souls around. he was very young, but he didn't care. he knew that anything that could happen could be no worse than the nothings that continued to happen in his life as it was.

he became a rent boy as it was almost a perfect next step. he had already been sexually active for quite some time and had learned to communicate with men on this level. and getting paid for this activity seemed only too good to be true. as it turned out, it wasn't that good at all. he found himself being objectified in ways he could never have dreamed, and a return of sadness bubbled up now and again amidst all the drugs, alcohol, and recreational sex that averted much of his attention.

a symptom of youth for him was perhaps that he so often got what he wanted. sadly though, this synchronicity was heavily low lighted by his constantly numbed demeanor and his inability to think even slightly big. or maybe it was that he had switched on survival mode early on and hadn't had the where-with-all to get beyond instinct. it seemed he was bright, but not really smart. and he was hurt, but never really cried. and he barrelled through this part of his teens just like he was endlessly running with his head tucked and his arm out trying to find the goal.

he would pick up tricks for money now and again for the first coupla years he arrived.  and he made himself available for free fun, too. on more than one occasion he emerged from situations which chipped away at his naivete and his sense of wonder. he was used, he was abused, he was ridden hard, and he was discarded quickly. he didn't lose hope. because this myriad of abrasion he lost himself in,  felt somehow deserved and familiar. he had hated and hidden so much of his nature, that by this stage of the game, he was conditioned to expect very little to actually put in his pocket. by the same token, he had no reason to think that life would not continue to reveal opportunities. he developed a deeper sense that he had little or no real value, and as long as he could numb, he could continue,,,, really..... no problem. at least not yet.

experience and self-worth are strange things. they link in ways that we rarely suppose. and the path we choose to survive our pain often defines life's challenges as our road is mapped out and paved. this is a truth for this boy. assumptions and conclusion made during these formative years still tend to line the birdcage of his soul. lined with the discarded copies of his chemical romance.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

it's kind of a funny story

last night i went to a co-worker's open house in federal heights for a minute, then met jim and went to dinner at new saigon where we had soft shell crab with garlic sauce, curry and coconut mussels and beef with black pepper. i can't say enough about how much i love spending time with him. somehow, i don't feel as if i have to explain myself to him, nor do i feel apologetic for being as avid an advocate for developing programs or ideas as i have become. he has known me for 18 years or so and understands me and gives me perspective that i am unable to quite see.

after dinner, we went to see "it's a kinda funny story" for the late show at the mayan. it was sweet, tender, and a bit balsamic. the performances are timely and relaxed, the script flowed easily like melted butter on popcorn, ad the idea that doing what we think we should be doing can be crazy making and that letting go of that particular mantra and spending time following our dreams, we may find some sense of sanity and serenity on the way. and with the exception of a couple of completely useless vomiting scenes, the film seemed easy and a good fit.

strangely, the cast of characters residing in the psych ward of the hospital did not seem very distant from the people i know in my life. i think they seem far more "normal" than the cast of "w" to me. music always lifts me and much of the music used for the background is from the sensational canadian ensemble "broken social scene". however, the most memorable musical moment came during the music workshop at the hospital with all the patients gathered round to play instruments. our hero's anxiety about singing takes us along on a fantasy about his fronting a glam band and performing queen and bowie's "under pressure".  a big debate between jim and i ensued, because i was sure this a late 70's song, but he insisted it was 80's. i also was sure it was bowie, but he disagreed. both of us were right and both of us were wrong. perfect..

good music. good film. worth seeing. maybe homescreen.

Friday, October 15, 2010


i met with a man today who is struggling with life. he's been wooed by tina for about 10 years and lost his way home probably a long time ago. feelings of futility, uselessness, frailty, and abandonment seem to be his greek chorus. and their songs return him to inertia with overwhelming regularity. about 4 months ago he began to hurt himself after arguments with a partner.  it is a trend that has caused pain and scars in different dimensions and it's a trait that continues to rear its head. frankly, he has opened my heart.

without a doubt, men who overuse meth develop hollow interiors. perhaps it's like being the remains of a scraped out melon after making classic style melon balls for a cocktail party. what remains is a sticky, runny, meatless shell that is just aching to be filled and seems such a waste. i understand that ache well and i respond to this man's predicament from my core.

as i sat with him, i found myself remembering a time when i had just tested positive for that damn AIDS virus. it was the mid 80's and there was not much information about what it was and certainly no medication of any kind. there were guys like me all over this country who were struggling with fear and a helplessness. out of la, there was a woman who began working with some of these guys, helping them to regain a bit of their balance and composure. she would infuse their hearts and minds with the idea that our thoughts had power and that we had the ability to have an effect on, my sponsor  our own lives. even if the scientists, doctors, and nurses didn't have that ability.  her name was louise hay and she facilitated a weekly group called the hayride and wrote a wondrous small book titled " you can heal your life". she not only touched and transformed hundreds of gay men in california, she is credited with sparking a movement in our culture. but i remember her mostly for the profound affect she had on me then and again.

strangely enough, 20 years later, i found myself trying to dig myself out of a very dark and dingy hole that my dance with meth had dumped me in. paralyzed with fear, anger, and frustration i turned to 12 step to help me figure a way out because i felt completely bamboozled. in that process i began working with a man who suggested i develop some spiritual practices that would intermittently and consistently keep me connected to a spiritual force. as i worked through this task, i remembered this song and the gift it gave me. i incorporated it into my daily routine again and i have found it reborn in its magic and grace.

i know that her voice, her ideas, and her words, comforted me in ways that nothing else could  during two very painful and pivotal times in my life. and i still carry some of that ideology within me today. i don't know if sharing the lyrics to this song she included on her taped affirmations offered my companion any solace, but if it gives him even a fraction of the power it has imparted on my life, then it is a good move.

              I Love Myself
I love myself the way I am,
there's nothing I need to change.
I'll always be the perfect me,
there's nothing to rearrange.
I'm beautiful and capable of being
the best me I can.
And I love myself just the way I am
I love you just the way you are,
there's nothing you need to do.
When I feel the love inside myself,
it's easy to love you.
Behind your fears, your rage and tears
I see your shining star.
And, I love you just the way you are.
I love the world the way it is,
'cause I can clearly see, that all the things
I judge are done by people just like me.
So 'till the birth of peace on earth,
that only love can bring,
I'll help it grow by loving everything.
I love myself the way I am,
and still I want to grow.
The change outside can only come,
when deep inside I know,
I'm beautiful and capable of being
the best me I can.
And I love myself just the way I am.

~written by Jai Josephs ~

Thursday, October 14, 2010

HIVSTER - A Fresh Voice From Seattle

TEN encourages you to take a look HIVSTER at a new site from Seattle featuring a collective of writers with some fresh perspectives and thoughtful points of view. click on the link below and read a bit about the soul of this new project. My previous post indicated it was in collaboration with, however this is incorrect. it is the efforts between Jesse Kendall and Brad Crelia of Seattle, WA.


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

seattle's new hivster- a look back in silence

Look back in silence; the cradle of your whole life.
There in the distance, loosing its greatest pride.
Nothing is easy, nothing is sacred. Why?
Where did the bow break?
It happened before your time.

a new hiv site has been borne from collaboration in seattle. has sponsored an hiv friendly site that brings cultural competence out in the open. it feels right. here is one of the articles i found posted. i am gently reminded yet again that being different has a dark side.
Today marks 12 years since Matthew Shepard’s tragic death. In 2001, my Mom wrote about his death and how it deepened her fears for about me being young and gay. Written almost ten years ago, her story still speaks directly to the violence and turmoil we endure. My mom passed away 7 years ago but I know wholeheartedly she’d be fighting with all her might to help the LGBTQ youth who are hurting today.

Judy Shepard, mother of murdered gay teen Matthew Shepard, is determined to use her grief over her son’s death to make a difference. She is now speaking to audiences nationwide about what they can do to prevent hate crimes in their schools and communities. To find when she might appear in your community or to sponsor her appearance, contact Keppler and Associates, at 703.516.4000 or visit -

Seeing it felt like a blow to my gut. My eyes immediately stung with tears, the kind that grip the corners of my eyes, refusing to fall. I came across it while researching the Internet for information on Matthew Shepard.

There wavering on my screen was an image of Matthew Shepard’s disembodied face frozen in a sad expression engulfed in animated flames. The words jumped off my monitor: “Matthew Shepard has been in hell for 838 days. Eternity — 838 days = Eternity.” Even the URL made me grimace —

On October 7, 1998, Judy Shepard’s world shattered. I can’t begin to imagine her pain at knowing how her son Matthew suffered, just because two sick young men hated gays, found a victim on which to unleash their rage, and left her son Matthew to die on a Wyoming fence.

I remember seeing Judy Shepard on TV. She said, “In a perfect world, because your child is gay, you don’t worry about their safety.” A chill ran through me. I couldn’t help but try to imagine Matthew Shepard’s terror, his parents receiving that awful call..... read the rest of this article at hivster

Monday, October 11, 2010

and twisted

             "Be like a flower and turn your face to the sun."- Kahlil Gibran
jim and i watched a german film called cherry blossoms last night and i must say we were yawning during the beginning. it is a slow and steady paced story about a disconnected adult nuclear family that encounters the daily situations most of us will at some time. the father is diagnosed with a terminal illness, the wife/mother is consulted first and decides not to disclose until family visits have taken place. the couple head to berlin from bavaria to visit 2 of their 3 adult offspring and encounter indifference and nonchalant condescension aimed at the parents. the 3rd son, living in tokyo, is referenced with a crystal understanding that this 3rd son was special.  the family in general are not close, nor does it even seem possible that they were ever under the same roof. yet they were.

but as this quiet and tenacious story unfolds, it is revealed that the mother, who is the nerve center of the nucleus, has always yearned for a different life than the one she had. she wouldn't have traded her kids and her family even if she had been able. the visit goes a bit sour in berlin and the couple decide to go to the baltic- to get some sun and sea air. while there, unexpectedly, a surprise tragedy occurs and the storyline shifts again.

this new chapter finds the characters in tokyo, visiting the son and trying to carve out a new understanding of where their life is headed. it must be late spring in tokyo as the cherry blossoms are everywhere- hence the name. the dance of the cherry blossoms in the breeze is reflected in the movement of the characters from this point forward. there are surprises here, bringing both smiles and uneasiness.

i loved this film. i didn't jump for joy nor did i cling to the edge of my seat. but i did find that the storytelling was solid. the plot moved and twisted in the breeze. it reminded me that the desires of people don't necessarily match their lives. and that love and codependency are real, even surreal, they have meaning and they can be weighty.

it's a good film. pretty, prickly, and perceptive. and jim makes movies more fun.

i have posted the soft cell/marc almond version of this song  previously, but i hadn't heard david gray. i am absolutely mad for him. his vocals, his poetry, his storytelling. i thought it fitting somehow. hope you enjoy it, too.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

and gnarly

A stricken tree, a living thing, so beautiful, so dignified, so admirable in its potential longevity, is, next to man, perhaps the most touching of wounded objects...

I met with some people today about putting together an exhibit to commemorate 30 years of HIV in Colorado. Actually, I am not sure why I was there. I can only imagine that it is because I have managed to get a couple of things done over the last couple of years. But I really haven't been involved in the HIV community for any more than the last 5. Before that, I didn't really bother with much about the "community" as I didn't understand fully that in Colorado that "community" is separate from the larger "LGBTQ" community. I always thought they were symbiotic.

But now I understand that they are separate entities. The LGBT community here doesn't necessarily want to take ownership of the other. Initially, I believe things were different, but perhaps with the onset of Anti-Retroviral Therapies, the drift began to happen. people were tired and wanted to heal from the hardship.

so there i sat today at lunch with a couple of others having to accept what a curmudgeon i have become. as one pontificated on and on as he always does, my serenity drained like a balloon with a pinhole. i am interested in developing a piece of education that may inform others, empower others, or may wake old passions, but i am not sure i am interested in sitting through the process that must exist in order to produce it.

although i fully support a memorial, maybe, i am not prepared to "unpack" all those old boxes. i'm becoming a gnarly, prickly, old man. it is  happening sooner than i was ready for

Friday, October 8, 2010

the ghost in me

humpty dumpty sat on a wall
humpty dumpty had a great fall
all the kings horses
all the kings men
couldn't put humpty dumpty
back together again

he had to do it his own damn self....

i used to recite this poem (with the final self-infused line) over and over to myself. i think when i was channelling it originally, i was resentful because no one was going to whisk me away and solve my problems for me. i was already overwhelmed and my brain was crispy, and i didn't believe i had the where-with-all to do anything right.

as it turned out, i did have to do all the work to get my ass outa the hole i was in. i certainly had been commandeering the vehicle that got me there and i had to find my own way back. and on the way back, i have become a counselor- an educator of sorts. this newer direction started out being more about me than the beautiful souls i worked with. but as time milled the grist, there has been a definite shift. i have become much much more invisible as i work, and the focus is definitely the client. this has been a welcome transition and hopefully a healthy one. i love my guys. but moreover, i love carving out some silhouette of hope. that is where change germinates. and what helps us get through another absolutely impossible day.

my work these days involves supporting people in finding their way with regard to putting themselves back together again. sounds easy, doesn't it?  well... it ain't.. but it engages a part of me that seems primal. primal and paternal and peppered with pathos.

i have been listening to bt's "these hopeful machines" again recently. and again, i find myself enamored with the cover of "the ghost in you".. no doubt you will, too...

Thursday, October 7, 2010


So true funny how it seems
Always in time, but never in line for dreams
Head over heels when toe to toe
This is the sound of my soul,
This is the sound
I bought a ticket to the world,
But now I've come back again
Why do I find it hard to write the next line
Oh I want the truth to be said

as i happily trudge through my daily routine, i encounter an incredible amount of shortcomings and deficits i had never known about. maybe i did, but never gave them the time of day. i know that i often find myself cutting a path between fear and acceptance with situations in my life. i fear failing or judgement, so i react and judge in defense.  i then will catch myself and try to let go of my auto-reactions and move towards trusting the outcome and trusting my abilities.

its always an exercise in mindfulness, because i have trained myself for 40 odd years to react instantly with fear. i go there first and then have to climb down from a usually precarious postion like a kitten just exercising its freedom.

this tedious and relentless process has become more bearable. i can't say i have it licked, but i am able to recognize who i am and what i am doing with more diligence and pace as my life evolves. i am learning to accept who i am, warts and pimples and all- and be okay with it.

for this i am sincerely grateful.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

social dickwork

my friend jim and i have been going to the movies pretty regularly all summer long. we mostly agree on the films we are gonna see, and we come at the films from different directions, but we mostly agree and love what we are doing.. at least i do.

sunday evening, we went to see social network and this seemed to be no different. i found myself fascinated as i watched the unauthorized story of mark zuckerberg and thefacebook play out. for me it was a bit riveting to see something so recent being portrayed from a wider perspective. the language is still fresh, the fresh flavor of connecting to others instantly still stands out in our minds, and the introduction of computer generated mental health issues and personality disorders meld naturally and elegantly with the same old human drama.

i found the film compelling. zuckerberg's character seemed to always be trying so hard to succeed and rise above his geek status. jessie eisenberg as mark seemed to telegraph the impression of  definite ocd or add being a driving force behind his genius. when life is upsetting i can just write code and make myself feel better. blogging for 4 years allows me to understand this on a more personal level. i sometimes go to my computer to help make myself change my mood.

zuckerberg is portrayed as the problem solving ironman in this story. he may have been supported in his quest for beyond-nerd positioning, but he was without fail the man that connected the dots in this picture. but the story also tells an old familiar tale. no man and no uber-network is an island. just as facebook is a vehicle to connect people to other people, there are other people besides zuckerberg that have made it happen. and unlike changing the channel on a television or closing a window on a website, it is not just okay to close a window on a relationship without giving that person or people the acknowledgement of their contribution and effect upon the journey.

or they will sue. where there is money , there is usually ego and lawyers. they go hand in hand. and this story is rife with them. people who are present on a journey often feel they are a bigger part of the process of creation because they are not used to creating anything. on the flipside though, when you tell someone yo want to partner with them or work with them, that is considered a verbal contract. even if they never do anything to contribute whatsoever.

the theatre was packed on a sunday night, so no doubt this film will do very well. the performances work, the zany "start-up" environment that sets up shop works on a few levels. justin timberlake brings a strange sense of sanity to the whole piece, which is almost oxymoronic as he portrays napster founder sean parker doing way too much partying as reality drowning with a minor in vengeance.

loved, loved, loved it..there is a definite collection of dicks in this movie. and i really loved that i got to pick which were the dicks according to me. pick your dick.   no need to say more. soundtrack by trent reznor. it's definitely a story for a newer generation.  well done.

here is the first song from the soundtrack which is from trent reznor (nine inch nails) and atticus. moody and ominous, it sincerely echoes the themes that are played out on the screen.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

get your group on

"Group means simply a number of people that you are sharing with on a regular basis. So if in fact you are living with or working with people who are negative, that you have help with that. There are also times in our lives when we are with positive people who are trying to walk a positive road. There is support. There is sharing of wisdom. More than anything else people who are walking the same road, who are fighting the same battles. It helps define you. That you are not powerless. That you can make all kinds of decisions. The quality of our life so much depends on what we choose it to be. Choose something wonderful and great for yourself and then get out and make it happen."... Earnie Larsen

i remember when i was attending a group with regularity. i went to 3 groups a week for 3 years because i needed the support. and i fell off the group attendance because i had a life changing situation and i started isolating. isolating is what i do when i am emotional because it is easier and hurts less than being around people and having to explain my feelings.

perhaps this is a cop out. i think this is what many acquaintances think. and maybe i think this too. there are two lines of thought for me on this. firstly, i think that i should talk about how i feel and include people in my life in what is going on inside my head and heart. and more so, i fall first to believing that my feelings (and myself) are inappropriate and in the wrong. the next process is for me to remember that i am allowed to have my feelings whatever they are. for so many years i have pushed past my feelings, ignored them, medicated them, not honored them, and therefore it is imperative for me to honor my feelings by having them and sitting with them.

i have written about this before and most likely will do so again. this is the centerpiece of my serenity at this time of my life. i co-exist with a chemical imbalance and i have to learn to do so in a way that is considerate of my being. i need to acquaint myself with my moods and the strategies to remain sane. and i have a steamer trunk full of emotional baggage filled with homespun and imported trauma and a lifetime of secrets, lying, hiding, and binging.

needless to say this requires fortitude and in reviewing my program, i realize i need to expand my support network.  i have about 5 good friends that are the ultimate supporters, but i think i may need to expand my inner work to include a more focused agenda and expand my recreational life to be around more people with more activities.

i sat in the group i facilitate yesterday and again noticed the energy that can be created by a selection of souls and a need to explore. i found myself smiling in admiration of this whole exchange.

 i think i need to get my group on.

and for fun, here is missy  gettin her group on and speaking an enticing language maybe only they really understand..

Friday, October 1, 2010

work to do

photo credit : myfoxny

after hearing tyler clementi's tragic story, i have been wrestling with the idea that i might need to be doing more to reach out to young gay people. i understand only too well, the challenges of being different coupled with guilt and self-loathing that many of these young gay men and women must work through. it is a dark dark journey that on some days takes all one can muster just to make it through a day. the internalized shame is completely toxic.

at the root of all of this is homophobia. people make fun of the characteristics of others because they are different and people are afraid. and this fear of gay people oftentimes is rooted in the perpetrators' own self loathing.

but to have one's initial sexplorations secretly videotaped and then posted online amid a small cloistered community like a college likens itself in my mind to torture. hazing, taunting, and torture. certainly the culprits did not intend for tyler's reaction. no, they probably didn't see it as an option. and that is the high crime here. that something could be funny takes priority over someone getting hurt is negligent, self-involved, and criminal.

i do have to admit that this does not seem far out of character for those in their late teens and early twenties. the dark possibilities in life have not yet reared their ugly heads to young persons in that age group. they (as did i) have a tendency to live in a safe bubble and still hold a belief that nothing will hurt us. but as the experience of actual living reveals to us, that we do get hurt. really hurt, seriously and permanently hurt sometimes.

my experience shows me that much of this early adult trauma that is both felt and perpetrated morphs into a life of heavy substance abuse and addiction,  self abuse, and hiv infections. there may be an internal self-hating that never really goes away if it is not addressed. it can lay dormant for long periods and then resurface when life situations take a southerly direction. and life does go south now and again and when it does, the roots of  shame can return as an infection, a virus, and a bacteria all rolled into one. we can find ourselves feeling as unprotected, vulnerable, and weak as we were when we were 17.

dan savage, dave navarro, ellen degeneres and many others are stepping up and beginning what should be an ongoing quest. how do we make the world a better place than when we got here? how do we squelch this force of hatred and separation that confronts so many lgbtq youth?

i don't have the answer. i don't know that i am sure where to begin. but i will become kinder. i can make an effort to reach backwards and become more inclusive. and i can make sure i don't forget.  i got work to do...