Saturday, September 29, 2012

lost

lost at sea by cory g via deviant art

“A further sign of health is that we don't become undone by fear and trembling, but we take it as a message that it's time to stop struggling and look directly at what's threatening us. ” 


"Love is patient, love is kind, it does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices in truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” (Corinthians 13:4-7)

my friend's ashes were blessed, reminisces shared, tears shed today at the small catholic church in englewood. i comforted friends from my past and was comforted by my friends of today. i sat quietly while others shared their history and insight. his longtime friend read the famous passage on love and i understood it more intimately than i could ever imagine. i ceremoniously put to rest any idea that i could head backwards.

i need to set a new course. i am unsure. it is not frightening, but i am reticent. i can't intuit how to move forward. i can't feel my feet. i can feel the wind and hear the pounding surf. i feel cold. i am waiting and trying my damnedest to lean into the unknowing.

there are (as always) many opinions for me to choose from. not my usual style though. internal wisdom tells me if i don't know what to do, then do nothing. life is just like playing poker sometimes. good bye my dear friend. safe journey. you will be missed.

and as for me, i am still. i am not a body. i am free. for i am still...... as god created me.

The wilderness is not just a desert through which we wandered for forty years. It is a way of being. A place that demands being open to the flow of life around you. A place that demands being honest with yourself without regard to the cost in personal anxiety. A place that demands being present with all of yourself.

In the wilderness your possessions cannot surround you. Your preconceptions cannot protect you. Your logic cannot promise you the future. Your guilt can no longer place you safely in the past. You are left alone each day with an immediacy that astonishes, chastens and exults. You see the world as if for the first time.
-Lawrence Kushner




Friday, September 28, 2012

celebrating 8 years



“All that we are is the result of what we have thought. The mind is everything. What we think we become.”


september 28 2004 was the day my heart gave out. i found myself in a position in my life in which i no longer recognized myself and i felt trapped by my behaviors. 
opportunity seemed to have vanished, and i was living in a life that i felt no love or compassion for. i had blasted all the meaning and intention from life with disregard and irreverence, and had been running for so many years i no longer was clear on what i was running from nor what i might be running to. i guess it had been endless running.

september 28 2004 was the day i surrendered. that was 8 years ago today. i went back to the treatment program and started participating in 12 step meetings. of course, those meetings were the last place i wanted to be. they seemed so lame. people i never would have partied with were talking about issues in their lives i had no concern nor care for. it came to unnerve me often, but i continued because i had no where else to really go and because here were the only sober people i could find. 

i really have to say here that i do feel honestly blessed. in that 1st year, there is no way i could have comprehended the path i now follow. i probably would not have been interested in it to be truthful. but this is the biggest blessing in surrender for me- the promises as laid out in that famous book "the big book"


“If we are painstaking about this phase of our development, we will be amazed before we are half way through. We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness. We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it. We will comprehend the word serenity and we will know peace. No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others. That feeling of uselessness and self-pity will disappear. We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows. Self-seeking will slip away. Our whole attitude and outlook upon life will change. Fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us. We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us. We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves.

Are these extravagant promises? We think not. They are being fulfilled among us — sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. They will always materialize if we work for them.”

i never knew until this recovery journey began, that my compassionate side had a birthplace and a reason. i didn't believe that the agonizing experiences i had growing up gay in small town middle america would be transformed into stockpiles of strength and understanding that i could offer to others in similar predicaments in their lives. and more importantly, i had no clue that i didn't have to run away whenever situations became so difficult-which they occasionally still do. but these are just a few insights i have gained over the last 8 years.

although today is a milestone, it is thoroughly bittersweet. my mentor of 7 years passed away 7 days ago and this would have been my 7th celebration with him by my side. certainly he resides in my heart and my mind. i have merely lost the luxury of hearing the words-"happy birthday cosmo" in the reassuring voice that has helped tame my heart and mold my intention. i really want to resent (but can't) the words i share often about the work in this life being really about "letting go". i have had so many wonderful things in my life, but i haven't been able to keep any of them. i have always had to let go. and it's the acceptance of that which causes me the most pain. letting go of my friend paul 27 years ago and letting go of my sponsor paul now are some of the most heart wrenching treks i have endured. 

i have made  great friends and reconnected with family, but these relationships have a very different rhythm without the partying. they seem quieter and they seem to run deeper. i have to say "thank you" to all my friends including my online life- without you and your support, my life would be so much smaller.   however, the most changed relationship is the one i have developed with the world in which i live. i used to take for granted the people, places, and things. i was always taking what i wanted or snatching what i needed, almost feeling like a visitor or even a trespasser. but now i do feel a bit more like a citizen. today i will work (2 jobs) and go to a meeting this evening. i already feel peace and gratitude. i hope to grow those feelings. i'm definitely glad i have something to work on.

i am sharing a vid that opens my heart for some reason. i have become enthralled with the xfactor uk this year. the auditions were amazing and this young girl's audition was no exception. but there was something even more compelling about her boot camp solo which is here. i hope you agree.

Do you believe in life after love 
I can feel something inside me say 
I really don't think you're strong enough, 
Now
Do you believe in life after love 
I can feel something inside me say 
I really don't think you're strong enough, 
Now 

What am I supposed to do 
Sit around and wait for you 
And I can't do that 
There's no turning back 
I need time to move on 
I need love to feel strong 
'Cause I've had time to think it through 
And maybe I'm too good for you Ohh Oh 



















Monday, September 24, 2012

we rallied




i spent 4 months married to the production of a 4 hour event (pics from recovery rally above) and i am completely pooped. i still have other commitments and things to do. but life and melancholy have slowed me down. 

i am still in shock over the passing of my friend. without realizing it, i find myself overwhelmed and reactive with an emphasis of trying to cut my self free of my life. i have dropped this service commitment and that commitment until i found myself ready to set free some resources for others because i don't feel i can handle them right now. but a friend reminded me to just chill and  stop making decisions right now. i just need to be for a bit and i guess that's what i'll do.

until then, please consider watching the 1st rough clip of footage. big kudos and thanks to tim ryerson of tnt productions for the work.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

tears in heaven

In Memoriam- Paul Jelaco

Let me come in where you are weeping, friend, 
And let me take your hand. 
I, who have known a sorrow such as yours, 
Can understand.

Let me come in -- I would be very still 
Beside you in your grief; 
I would not bid you cease your weeping, friend, 
Tears can bring relief.Let me come in -- I would only breathe a prayer, 
And hold your hand, 
For I have known a sorrow such as yours, 
And understand....

Grace Noll Crowell 

i have posted a few times about my sponsor and his diagnosis of stage IV liver cancer earlier this year. i called his home 2 days ago and was informed by a voice i didn't know that he had been moved to hospice. and i just received a call from that same voice letting me know that he passed this morning in his sleep. i was concerned about his mother. i asked the mysterious voice to please give my number to his mother. his mom called me 10 minutes later. i have been filled with a bittersweet sadness since. there is drama with his mama and it may be forever unresolved. it's not my drama, but i am privy to it none-the-less.

paul was my sponsor, but more importantly he was my friend and mentor. when i met him he was attending 12 step meetings and always quoting from "the big book". it usually annoyed me greatly when people did that, but for some reason, his gentle demeanor dissolved my disdain. i didn't need an aggressive sponsor. paul fit that bill. he taught me the concept of "god doesn't create junk" and repeated it over and over. here is a post from my 1st blog which captures a sense of just how integrated his words are into my process. the post was titled "house of flying daggers"

when paul was diagnosed, he started to shut down- both emotionally and physically, and the experience of losing him began at that time for me. i spoke with him weekly at least, but didn't see him more than 10 times or so. each time i did see him, and many times on the phone, he would well up with tears. he struggled with his feelings about his health and i am sure with his own sense of loss, fear, and probably his sense of failure with his battle with cancer as well.

what i am resisting here is conveying the emptiness and melancholy that winds through me like the highline canal meanders through our fair city. friends like paul do not appear in my life everyday. i am a flawed friend. i carry much baggage. those who can accept and withstand me are very few and far between. i have conveyed these feelings to him, but it never seemed enough- especially now.

he used to call me "cosmo". he felt pride and respect for the work i did. he was always supportive of my work in the hiv community and in the recovery community. he understood that i strangely live a sober life filled with synchronicity and opportunity. he also reminded me that i might just be doing the work i was meant to do. i have had a cheerleader like no other and will probably never experience that level of  trust and support again. i hope i didn't take it for granted nor have it in vain. and i certainly hope i was able to be even a fraction of this for him.

i am not at all aware of where i go from here. the more dramatic part of me sees myself almost as jill clayburgh sitting on the floor of that empty apartment at the end of "an unmarried woman". drama aside, a cornerstone of my foundation seems to have vanished. no doubt i'll get to that, but this damn wind that i have to deal with until then.....







Thursday, September 20, 2012

Denver Sneak Preview- How To Survive A Plague




GIVEAWAY: Enter to win an admit 2 pass to the advance screening of HOW TO SURVIVE A PLAGUE!
IFC Films presents HOW TO SURVIVE A PLAGUE, the story of two coalitions—ACT UP and TAG (Treatment Action Group)—whose activism and innovation turned AIDS from a death sentence into a manageable condition. HOW TO SURVIVE A PLAGUE opens at the Denver Film Center Colfax on October 12!

Be one of the first to see the film on Wednesday, October 3 at 7:00PM in Denver! Enter to win by texting the word CHANGE and your ZIP CODE to 43549. (Entry deadline: 10/1 at midnight; Example Text: CHANGE 80246). Winners will be notified on Tuesday, October 2. There is no charge to text 43KIX. Message and data rates from your wireless carrier may apply. Remember, movie companies overbook previews, so arrive early because seating is not guaranteed.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

radical acceptance

image credit... denis darzacq


as i have been working with patients at the hospital and with clients at my other position as well as muddling through my own experiences, i came across a copy of tara branch's book "radical acceptance". as i pondered its content, i was knocked hard in the gut with the concept that one always returns to thinking and believing that something is wrong with them. i guess this seems naive to say, but not only do i have this tendency, but it has never occurred to me until now that it might not be normal- otherwise that there might be another way to just "be". 

understandably, it is at once a relief and very daunting that a process may be able to get me from dark to light with some simple steps. a few of them are listed below in a quote from ms. branch. but the 1st of these is a coping skill named radical acceptance. it goes against my nature, which may be why it seems almost as brilliantly simple like fire or the wheel. 

as i have been savoring this idea, my world-and my work- has been opening up like a birthday gift with lots of paper. the main component of radical acceptance is that resistance equals suffering and pain. check. most of my horrors are shame-based- therefore if i can move to "here's where i am- better start here" the pain from shame seems to go "poof".

more on this no doubt, as life continues. radical acceptance may just change my life forever.

"I’ve found that whenever I am really suffering, on some level I am believing and feeling that “something is wrong with me.” Over the years I’ve been drawn to three primary gateways for awakening from this trance. In the Buddhist tradition they are referred to as the three refuges:

One (called “sangha”) is loving relationship-both live contact with loved ones and also meditation on the love that’s in my life. In the moments of remembering love, there is an opening out of the sense of separate self. For me, reflecting on love has included prayer to the beloved, to what I experience as the loving awareness that is my source. When I feel separate and stuck, that loving presence might seem like it’s apart from me and “out there.” But by reaching out in longing and prayer, I’m carried home to the loving presence that is intrinsic to my Being.

A second gateway (“dharma” or truth) is taking refuge in the present moment. The training of meditation is a gift as it has helped me to pause, wake up out of thoughts and contact my moment to moment experience. When I am no longer running away or resisting what is happening inside me, I reconnect with the space and compassion that has room for whatever is going on. 

A third gateway (“buddha” or “buddha nature”) is turning towards awareness itself. Most of the time we are paying attention to the foreground of experience-to our thoughts, feelings and sensations. What we are missing out on is the background of experience, the formless dimension of Being itself. By asking questions like “What is aware right now?” or “What is knowing these sounds?” or “Who am I?” we begin to intuit our own presence or Beingness. The signs of this presence are space, stillness and silence?
...Tara Branch author of Racial Acceptance-Embracing Your Life with the Heart of a Buddha.


Sunday, September 9, 2012

Friday, September 7, 2012

living the promises



If we are painstaking about this phase of our development, we will be amazed before we are half way through. We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness. We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it. We will comprehend the word serenity and we will know peace. No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others. That feeling of uselessness and selfpity will disappear. We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows. Self-seeking will slip away. Our whole attitude and outlook upon life will change. Fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us. We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us. We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves.

Are these extravagant promises? We think not. They are being fulfilled among us—sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. They will always materialize if we work for them.

throwing a party- or more accurately - a rally, takes some patience. it takes help, it takes attention, it takes money, and it takes time. i must say i have had quite a ride working on this event- 2012 Recovery Rally Colorado.
there have been so many steps- securing the venue, lining up speakers, recruiting volunteers, keeping volunteers busy, finding the right sound person, securing sponsors, engaging resource vendors, supporting the volunteers, securing funding streams, networking, and the one that probably makes my heart sing the most- marketing.

i have learned that i am enamored with helping develop a "look' for these things and working to get the word out. now that the festival is tomorrow, all of this particular heart-engaging work has come to a close. i will get to share stories, test my courage by speaking to our participants (easy because i have a purpose- introducing  others). i hope and pray that i will not make an ass of myself- although i do realize that if i do make an ass of myself i will still survive somehow.

but the opportunity i have had to give a face and an image to this festival is one of the promises coming true for me in my life. i get to be useful and in the process, my heart gets involved. i don't have to yearn for the approval that i used to need almost as much as i needed air to breathe.

so there are many last minute details to finish to ready for the party. pick up a guest from the airport, pick up the programs, finalize the water situation, answer a multitude of emails, find a balloon arch, find weights for the tents, troubleshoot a few last minute snafus.

it seems moot at this point to hope for a successful rally. it is already in motion. and i feel like i have already been part of a success. it feels fantastic. and i am completely grateful. many thanks to jena at rockethouse designs. and thanks also to afr for the opportunity to dance to my own music.


Colorado Recovery Rally 2012 program


Honor Guard

Advocates For Recovery Brochure