I woke up this morning like just about any other Monday morning:
Alarm clock noise insisting it was no longer the weekend, and also that I should really get out of bed and go for a run.
Fine. In just a minute.
[Five minutes later] HOW ABOUT RIGHT NOW.
A short run later as I was getting ready for work, grabbing a bite to eat and some coffee I looked at my watch and noticed the date.
Back in 1991 this was the day that changed my life forever, although I wouldn’t know it until the following day. It wasn’t until the 28th I learned that my mom had been killed the day before.
It took me roughly a decade (and almost as many years in therapy) before I didn’t think about her death and its impact on my life every single day. At first I would dread birthdays and holidays and any special (or random normal) day I wished I could still share with my mom. Until one day I noticed I wasn’t doing that anymore.
It wasn’t a single day where I simply decided to stop noticing she was gone, but more that my life had begun to be more about me living my life than living it without her. I miss my mom when I think about her, but not always in the sad, longing ways I did in the first decade after she died.
Most moments my mom pops into my mind I’m able to laugh and remember her smile, her sense of humor, and know that I’m me because she was her. But today is not one of those days.
Today I sit here and while I remember her laugh, her smile, her sense of humor, her way of being, I find myself longing to hear that laugh, see that smile, beckon that sense of humor, be a part of her way of being.
The kind of longing where lumps line up in the back of your throat just in case crying lodges one of them loose.
Today I find myself longing to feel her arms wrapped around me, comforting me in a loss felt so deeply, even 25 years of knowing everything is going to be okay without her, it’s still sometimes never going to be.
Today I find myself angry with my memory that I can’t quite recall the sound of her voice in my head. And so very sad at that, too.
Today there are no words, no arms, no laughs, no smiles to take the place of my mom’s.
“When you are content to be simply yourself and don’t compare or compete, everyone will respect you.” —Lao Tzu
People tend to respect authenticity in your words, your actions, your being. When you stop worrying about gaining the respect of others, it often happens that respect comes naturally.
The trick is to not get caught up in hoping you’re actually going to earn the respect of everyone you come across in life.
You’re going to earn the respect of people who have similar values to you when they see you honor those values on a regular basis.
If you’re authentic in your daily words, actions, and being, and honoring a value-set that’s important to you in doing so, and you don’t gain someone’s respect naturally, it’s time to ask yourself why you care.
It’s been nearly a week since the devastating attack on our LGBTQ community brothers and sisters in Orlando. 49 innocent people killed by a man who chose hate over love.
I’ve scrolled endlessly through my Twitter and Facebook feeds, and online in general, looking for more details and more information and more confirmation that this tragic event will not break us.
I knew not a single person who died last Sunday in that horrific mass shooting, and yet I feel each of their deaths acutely. The more information that comes out about each victim, the more connected I felt to each of them. The youngest was just 18 years old.
For fuck’s sake, I had just gotten fired from my first real job at 18. I hadn’t even met my now-best-friend-of-18-years at 18. I had barely begun to learn what life in the real world was like at 18. I had so much to learn about life and so many struggles to get through that would teach me who I am and why my life matters–most of which I wouldn’t realize until I was in my mid-thirties.
I looked up life expectancy in the US: 81.6 for women and 76.9 for men. The average age of the victims was 29. So many years cut short. I did the math and it’s fucking staggering. If you add the total years lost for these young men and women based on that life expectancy, on Sunday night we lost 2,364.1 years of expected life.
TWO THOUSAND THREE HUNDRED SIXTY FOUR YEARS OF LIFE.
TWO THOUSAND THREE HUNDRED SIXTY FOUR
No wonder the collective whole of the LGBT community is stunned. No fucking wonder.
There are political implications of the worst mass shooting in US history, both domestic and international, and while there is much to politicize about the tragic hate crime on the LGBT community, I’m leaving that mostly aside here.
Today I want this space to be a place where I can share my anger. My frustration. My fear. My deep and cutting sorrow. My hope. My resolve.
I am unbelievably angrythat one human being gets to have a say in the life and death of 49 other human beings. I thought this kind of anger was reserved for the kind of tragedy that impacts one’s own personal life. I was wrong. I am allowed to feel this anger and let it process through my veins, into my bones, and permeate my soul. I don’t need to hold onto it, but I do need to fucking feel it.
I am fucking frustratedwith people who choose to be so close-minded that they take the lives of others because they simply don’t understand how to love. I am so fucking tired of religion being used as a scapegoat for all this hatred toward the gay community. The true Christians and Jews and Muslims and Atheists and Catholics I know would never ever hate someone, and certainly not enough to lash out at them physically, and even less so to intentionally harm a person, let alone take a life. The religious people I know and respect preach love, not hate. It doesn’t mean they fully understand the gay community or believe being gay is okay or right in the eyes of God/Allah/The Universe/Nothingness. And frankly, I don’t care what these religious friends believe. I care that they are decent human beings that treat me and others with love and respect. This hate that’s being spewed in the name of God? That’s not religion. That’s fear.
I am fearfulthat this will not be the end of the hateful crimes against my community. Long before Omar Mateen walked into Pulse with his guns and his hate, people were using their bare hands and trucks and chains and knives and plenty of other weapons we can’t possibly ban society from purchasing or using without a background check. I am fearful of the level of hate that’s being so easily tossed in the air, breathed in by already fragilely hateful people who then pass it on to our sponge-brained children. I am fearful that this vicious cycle of hate isn’t close to being over.
I feel a level of sorrowI haven’t felt in 25 years. The deep level of sorrow that nearly consumed me after my mother was killed when I was 16. She wasn’t the only family I had, but pretty damn close. The 49 members and allies of the LGBT community who had their lives stolen from them by hatred, they were a part of my family–a family I chose. A family that sticks together. A family that fights for and believes in one another. A family that stretches around the globe so none of us have to feel alone, even if sometimes we are.
I feel a great deal of hopein reading the countless stories of others and their experiences of this tragedy. I feel hope in the cathartic banding together we’re doing right now. I feel hope in this connection to my community, my family. I feel hope in the willingness of good people to speak out against the actions of one man, regardless of his inspiration (hate wears many masks).
I feel a comforting sense of resolvein moving forward. This will not break us. We are not damaged beyond repair. We have survived with broken hearts all our lives and we will continue to live with broken hearts. But not just live. Not just survive. Thrive.
The beauty of resolve when you’re a part of a community is that you don’t have to figure it out alone. You don’t have to know the next step in moving forward. You just need to take the hand of one person in your community, your family, and together you will find a way to move forward.
“Don’t regret anything you do, because in the end it makes you who you are.”
There are a number of messages just like this floating around, I think with the intent of wanting you to let go of the past and own all the different parts of you, even the ones you don’t feel so proud to share.
feel sad, repentant, or disappointed over (something that has happened or been done, especially a loss or missed opportunity).
The thing is, without regret we have little room for growth. If we’re not disappointed by our words or actions (or often, inactions), then we’re not learning how to be a better version of ourselves when the opportunity presents itself next time.
It’s okay to regret the awful words that escaped your mouth when [you were angry]. It’s okay to regret the awful behavior you displayed when [you were caught off guard]. It’s okay to regret not saying you loved someone when [you had the chance].
Regret doesn’t change who you are or disallow you to take responsibility for your words/actions/inactions, or negate the fact that you are a whole person having done these things you regret.
Instead of holding onto regret and feel bad about yourself for whatever happened in the past, use it as a trigger that offers you an opportunity to think about what you would do differently if you found yourself in a similar situation.
“Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day of your life.” —Confucius
I get the sentiment here, and still, let’s pick it apart for the sake of honesty (with ourselves).
It’s great to love what you do for a job. And also, it’s work. Even if most some days you’re able to feel like it’s not.
This idea that all you need to do is choose a job you love and it won’t feel like work is asinine.
It sets us up for failures we don’t know how to recover from because all we’re doing is learning to move on to the next thing when you feel like you don’t love it for more than a minute.
I love what I do. Love. I love being a life coach. And also, it’s work. I love working in Customer Service. And also, it’s work. I love volunteering. And also, it’s work. I love knowing at the end of the day I’ve helped someone in some way, shape, or form. And also, it’s work.
It’s all work that I love, but it’s work nonetheless.
There are days I get up and don’t want to do my job. A job I love and wouldn’t trade for the world. A job that rewards me with feeling like I’m contributing to society in the best way possible for me.
It’s still work. But the work I do is worth the work it takes to do my job. And that’s what matters most.
Don’t concern yourself with not feeling like it’s work—that’s just being lazy. Concern yourself with loving what you do anyway—especially when it’s (hard) work.
This goes for jobs, kids, healthy relationships, and life in general.
If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. It’s the hard that makes it great. —Jimmy Dugan, A League of Their Own