Tuesday, March 31, 2015

An End To Tolerance.

Let's talk about tolerance. It's a necessary component of social and civil interaction. It is the mechanism people use to keep from going crazy when other people don't behave as we expect them to.

In short, tolerance implies that one of us behaves in such a way that the other one has to be willing to put up with it for the sake of the relationship.

  • I tolerate your constant tardiness.
  • You tolerate my bad driving.
  • I tolerate you always being on your mobile phone.
  • You tolerate my repetitive storytelling.

But tolerance is about behaviors, not characteristics. It is not for me to tolerate someone because of their race, gender, sexual orientation, or other personally identifying trait.

Get the difference?

There is nothing wrong with someone's race. It is what it is. The same goes for their gender. And their sexual orientation. And their religious identification.

These are things that people use to define who they are. And who they are isn't for me to "tolerate," like my personal identification is somehow the right one and theirs is something less.

The entire concept of tolerance with regards to someone's definition of self is absurd. If Jane identifies as a man and is seeking to align her physical self with who she knows herself to be, good. It isn't for me to "tolerate" her as a transgender man.

It's not for me to "tolerate" Joe as a black man, or Kim as Asian lesbian, or Pat as an asexual person.

I'll say that again. It's not for me to tolerate these people.

I do have a responsibility to them, though. I have a choice, really. I can either remove myself from their lives or I can accept them, fully and completely.



What I do not get to do is stay in their lives, feign acceptance, but continue to judge them harshly for being wrong and myself as loving because I tolerate them.

It's pretty basic, folks. I can choose to tolerate (or not) the way a person behaves to and around me. If I am bothered enough by their actions, I can opt to confront them or I can choose to no longer allow them in my life. Easy enough.

But I don't get a vote on who a person is. I need to either accept them as they are or have the courage and decency to remove myself from their life.

The other side of this is important, too. I am who I am. I am a forty-eight year old white gay man. And if you think I chose any of those traits, or you find that you must tolerate any of that, it's time for you make a change.

I will not be tolerated for being the person I am. I am me, without apology and without justification.

(And to my friends, if I have made you feel tolerated instead of loved and accepted, I have failed you. But I promise, I will continue to do everything in my power to make sure that you know that our friendship is important to me, YOU are important to me, and I will do better. Because we both deserve that.)



Wednesday, March 25, 2015

52 Weeks of Art - Week 12 - "Creature"

For my writing challenge this week, my inspiration was the word "creature." Many different ideas came to mind, but in the end, only one seemed right.

Creatures aren't just the monsters from the old movies. Sometimes, these creatures pass as human beings, seemingly one of us but horrible, evil beings deep inside.

I dedicate these words to the memories of Blake BrockingtonAsh Haffner,  Zander Mahaffey, Melonie Rose, and Lealah Alcorn. Each of these young people were victimized by creatures who stalked and bullied them until they felt they couldn't take anymore.

They were innocent. And they were beautiful. And our lives are less because they are no longer with us.



Innocent

Little boys, little girls.
Come into this world.
No idea, what’s ahead,
Day by day, life unfurls.

Take my hand, look both ways.
See what’s there around the turn.
Danger waits in the streets.
So much for you to learn.

And they’re innocent.
What we were and may one day be.
And they’re beautiful.
In ways we can’t even see.

Little girls, little boys,
Aren’t always who they seem.
And your plans for their lives,
May not be their dream.

As they grow, as they change,
As they feel the need to hide,
Love them, all of them,
Don’t be afraid of what’s inside.

And they’re innocent.
What we were and may one day be.
And they’re beautiful.
In ways we can’t even see.

Little boys, little girls,
Not ready for a fight.
Creatures of the dark,
Reach out and steal their light.

Little girls, little boys,
Pain cutting like a knife.
Take a step to stop the hurt.
And walk out of this life.

And they were innocent.
What they were they’ll never be.
And they were beautiful.
In ways we can’t even see.

And they were innocent.
Oh, they were innocent.











Friday, March 20, 2015

The Courage To Start.

So, it's day two. That means I've actually only completed one full day of this challenge. But I already feel better. And that's the magic of this whole thing.

I feel good because I've started. I feel good because I'm willing to admit that I need to make a change and here's the plan that's going to get me there.

First steps matter. Don't be afraid to take one.


Thursday, March 19, 2015

#BlogOnTheRun

Today is the first day of my 30 day Red Carpet Challenge (#30DayRCC). I will explain more about that in tomorrow's blog, but today I'm introducing my "blog on the run" entries. 

My 30 day running plan includes walk intervals, and those will be my chance to do a blog entry during my training runs.

Sometimes it will be photos from where I'm at, other times it will just be a little running dialogue in my head put down in print. Either way, it will be live from the run.

And here's a warning. I will be using the talk-to-text feature, so just ignore the typos and weird spellings.

Let's do this.

#BlogOnTheRun 

Friday, March 13, 2015

Writing My Own Story.

As anyone who knows me is already well aware, my Aunt and Uncle led a team of friends and renovated/redecorated our home last week. I'll post more about that later (including lots of photos), but I wanted to share one thing today.

In our bedroom, near the desk where I usually sit and write, my Aunt picked out a wall decal with a saying that she thought would inspire me.



And surprise, surprise. It's already working its way into my daily thoughts.

This morning, this car was in front of me for nearly a mile.



And there's no other way to say it. This driver was all kinds of annoying. She was going 15 in a 25mph zone. When she slowed to a stop at the lights, she kept nearly three car lengths in between her and the car in front of her. And as you can see in the picture, when she stopped at a very busy intersection, she plunked herself smack dab in the middle of the lane. That, of course, meant that me and the other drivers behind me were unable to make a right turn on the red light. So we all sat there, traffic backing up and all of us ready to get out of our vehicles and share our less-than-happy attitudes with this woman.

But then, for whatever reason, I thought about that saying.

"Remember when writing the story of your life, don't let anyone else hold the pen."

And it clicked.

Before I encountered this woman, I was in a pretty good mood. It's Friday, the sun is shining, and it's an unbelievably beautiful Spring-like day here in San Diego. I was singing along to my music, feeling great, and looking forward to a good day.

In other words, I had previewed the story of my day and I was looking forward to experiencing it.

So why give this woman the power to rewrite my day? The few minutes I spent following her in her car mean absolutely nothing in the bigger scheme of my otherwise amazing day ahead. Instead of churning and getting pissed off, I actually chuckled and said, out loud, "yeah, yeah, I get it."



It's my day. I get to choose how it plays out. And today, I choose to be happy.

And yes, it really is that simple.


Thursday, March 12, 2015

#OperationBetterMood

Well, it seems that a week away from the real world is exactly the tonic to improve a guy's outlook on life.

As a reminder for the one or two people in my life who may not have noticed, these pictures reflect my attitude prior to my vacation:

 
 


Yep, it's true. I was out of control. I couldn't get through the first hour of my day without already feeling pissed off. And that's no way to live.

Fast forward to today and my mood is so, so much better. There are many reasons for that, of course. First, I had a whole week in Mammoth Mountain to relax and unwind. I also used that time to process through all the emotional baggage I had been carrying for the last few months. Losing friends is heartbreaking enough, but when they are taken in the prime of their lives, it's almost unfathomable.

And the endless stream of "outrage" stories showing up in my Facebook newsfeed were affecting me, too. Between the crimes, the abuse, the attacks, and the overall assault on decency and civility, it was just too much for me to take.

There are other factors, too. I am no longer carrying the secret of the home makeover from my husband. That was SO much pressure, to not only keep it a surprise but to make sure I didn't spoil all the planning and hard work that everyone else was putting into the home renovation. Ric and I tell each other everything, so that was crazy stressful.

But here we are now. And I'm at the very beginning stages of what I am calling #OperationBetterMood. And so far, so good.

First up, I started my day with coffee and sunshine in my brand new living room. It was calm, peaceful, and relaxing, and who doesn't enjoy that?

Next, I've begun filtering down my Facebook feed. There are way too many negative stories showing up, and I'm over it. I want to be informed of actual news, yes, but I don't need to keep up with every idiot who says something outrageous for attention. What's the point?

Also, I will spend time this weekend bringing a little order to the other areas of my home. After the big home improvement project, I am still left with clean up and organization challenges. But I can do them, and once done, it will be so much easier to keep the house in order.

Another big adjustment? It's time to make my health a priority again. I've spent months and months doing little to nothing, and it shows. I'm heavier than I want to be and I feel out of shape. That's no way for me to live. A simple routine of eating better, being active, and repeating consistently will take care of that.

Finally, I am focused once again on my writing. And that's a big deal for me. When I take the time to create something worth reading, it changes my whole attitude. I feel good about myself and I want that feeling to continue.

Bottom line? My happiness depends on me and the choices I make. And today, I'm choosing to embrace what makes me feel good and discard what doesn't.

What more can I ask of myself?





Wednesday, March 11, 2015

52 Weeks of Art - Week 10 "Poison"

This week, the theme for my writing assignment was "poison." All I had to do to find inspiration was read a single day of my Facebook newsfeed. Seriously. 

Seeing it all at once like this is the final straw for me. My challenge now is to find a way to limit these types of stories from overwhelming me each and every day. 

Anyway, for better or for worse, here it is.
________________________

Poison

All of the migrant children spread disease 
Don't know to go to the bathroom properly
Woman sawed baby’s throat to stop her crying
Police arrived too late, found the baby dying

Minnesota teens sharing Snapchat at the mall
Noose around the black neck,  captioned “gotta hang ‘em all”
Christian university shuts down bake sale 
We can’t help the homosexuals going to Hell

I’ve had enough of this poison
I’ve heard as much as I can take
I’ve had enough of this poison
Any more and I fear this heart and soul will break

The Bible says an HIV vaccine will never be
Because AIDS is punishment for homosexuality
NFL player arrested for beating up his wife
In her 9-1-1 call, she said she feared for her life

Former pro athlete says he’s ashamed of the teams
Supporting gay marriage and doing Devil’s work it seems
Pat Robertson says that God’s will should be done
Parents shouldn’t go to the gay wedding of their son

I’ve had enough of this poison
I’ve heard as much as I can take
I’ve had enough of this poison
Any more and I fear this heart and soul will break

A Texas fraternity holds a racist party
They also forbid integration and “fagetry”
Oklahoma chapter of Sigma Alpha Epsilon
Chanting “no niggers” and the legacy goes on

A state senator says that because God abhors
All the gays they haven't any right to shop in stores
A California attorney proposes legislation
To kill homosexuals to save God’s nation

I’ve had enough of this poison
I’ve heard as much as I can take
I’ve had enough of this poison
Any more and I fear this heart and soul will break

Politician’s father says transgender bathroom use
Puts decent boys and girls at risk for violent abuse
Texas passes hateful transphobic legislation
Adds $2,000 fine for using wrong location

Phyllis Schlafly says immigrants carry fundamental flaws
Don’t want to be American or follow US laws
On the streets of Dallas, an Iraqi man is dead
An innocent, just standing there, shot in the head

I’ve had enough of this poison
I’ve heard as much as I can take
I’ve had enough of this poison
Any more and I fear this heart and soul will break

University of Oregon, when investigating rape,
Accesses private words captured on therapist-recorded tapes
Catholic Bishop says rape victims, out of spite,
Punish the rapist by aborting his baby’s life

Lesbians and gay with children haven’t any right
They shouldn’t be allowed to raise them in Satan’s sight
A Monsignor calls a man a faggot, a maricon,
And then he says act the way God has shown

I’ve had enough of this poison
I’ve heard as much as I can take
I’ve had enough of this poison
Any more and I fear this heart and soul will break


Tuesday, March 3, 2015

52 Weeks of Art - Week 09 "Ring"

The Ring

On the table was a band of gold
And like these hands, it just looked old
The things that it’s seen
When it held its sheen
More stories than one heart can hold

It began in a New Jersey shop
When sold to a rookie cop
To be given by he
With a question, on a knee
And the promise of love that won’t stop

It was worn proudly everyday
Life’s highs and lows on the way
The worst was the war
Nineteen-forty four
But he came home just as she had prayed

She wore it always with such pride
Even after that old cop had died
“You know what they say,
True love has its day,”
She’d say as she quietly cried

When she passed the ring came to me
And then to the girl of my dreams
I’d stare at her hand
Hoping she’d understand
That it meant so much more than it seemed

When she left us, I thought that I would
Give it you, hoping you could
Some day find a girl
To join in this world
And be as happy as two lovers should

With no clue of the world around me
I was truly as shocked as could be
I did not understand
Not a part of my plan
To learn that your love was a he

I’m not proud of my clumsy words
(Did I really say “that’s absurd”?)
But I can’t take back
The words of attack
My judgment was all that you heard

I’m ashamed of what I said to you
And the pain that I have put you through
Of the hatred you face
For the love you embrace
And the people who judge what you do

Your Grandmother and Mother above
In a dream gave my heart a shove
It’s simple, I see
The way it should be
And I get it now, love is just love

So I come to you hat in hand
And you’ll notice a change in the band
It’s still the same gold
But no longer old
It’s been recast to fit on a man

Please forgive what I’ve said and done
Take this ring and propose to the one
Who will stand by your side
Pfft, who needs a bride
When I’m already gaining a son?



















(Written for my 52 Weeks of Art Challenge.)