Thursday, December 24, 2009

An Eclectic Mix

In one of my media classes years ago, our professor asked what magazines, if any, we subscribed to at the time.  As I recall mine were MS Magazine, Mother Earth News, Business Week, Newsweek and Reader's Digest.  He was humored by the eclectic mix.
I have always been rather eclectic.  I'm curious about people - why they believe and do the things they do.  That is probably why communications has been the right field for me.  The study of interpersonal communications, intercultural communications, and mass media is so very interesting to me.  Pay attention and it removes your egocentric perspective.  You have to try to step into the other person's shoes.
Why is it that what I said isn't what you heard?  Why is your belief system different than mine?  How do we move an audience to a conclusion of some thought or action?
As a corporate media producer for a global company I have to apply these things to everything I do.  One day I may be working with the President's message to employees, and the next it may be a video explaining how to use a remote control for machines.
On a personal level, I enjoy that same diversity.  I like being around people who are doing all kinds of things and who hold all kinds of beliefs.  Of course, I am most drawn to those who share common values of community.  But I don't fear people who think differently and walk a different path.  Unless it is overtly destructive, I am curious and often entertained to learn more.  
My measure of how close I want to be to those who are different is how much they laugh.  Where there is joy, there is something to be learned of greater personal value.  

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Coming Out

As a 52 year old activist for GLBT rights, I am sometimes asked what it is I am fighting for and why.  I ask myself that question quite often - especially when it seems the very people who would seem to be allies - should be allies - are so petty and dysfunctional.
As I search my source of motivation, I return to my coming out days.  At 18, much to my surprise, I fell in love with a woman.  I hid it from my friends and family.  I struggled to make sense of it.  I felt guilt and fear based on all that I had been taught.  I rejected the notion that I could be a lesbian.  My religious and cultural upbringing was in total conflict with my loving another woman.  
When that relationship ended, I was devastated.  I had no one to talk with about it.  She was the only one who knew.  She was gone.  
I tried everything I could think of to get over it - to excuse it away.  I immersed myself in "Campus Crusade for Christ".  I dated a nice man who asked me to marry him.  But nothing worked to change what I knew.  It did not fit for me.  I could not be in that world any longer.  I thought I could not be in the world any longer.  I felt as though this one relationship was so isolated and so unique that I was forever an outsider the world around me.  
A year later, the loneliness and isolation was overwhelming.  In the depths of my anguish, two Nuns addressed my religious issues.  And a friend put me in touch with a community of older Lesbians who had built a community and lived rather openly.  
That is why I speak out now.  That is what I am fighting for - that person - 18, 30, 40, or older - who has discovered they love someone of the same sex and is struggling to make sense of it.  The person who feels they are in the wrong body somehow.
Our hearts do not know gender.  Love is not a gender.  
I am so lucky that I learned I was a lesbian when I was just 18.  As I meet GLBT people who have learned this in later years, I realize that the older you are, the more baggage there is to overcome.  Children, jobs, older parents, spouses, community ties, all become major hurdles.  I have heard these stories over and over again with gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and transgender people who have come out in later years.  Some have lost their jobs.  Some have lost family relationships.  It has caused divorces.  It has resulted in community scrutiny.  
I am fighting to provide a sense of community for those who struggle with these issues.  I am fighting to help to educate the world that understands love knows no gender.  Love is what it is.  I am fighting for love because I love.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Stepping outside your zone

One of my favorite college courses was Intercultural Communications.  It forced me to step outside my comfort zone and examine my own biases.  
One particular assignment has stuck with me.  We were asked to select a culture that we felt we did not like and study it.  At the ripe old age of 25, I was a non-traditional student - had served in the Air Force - lived in different cultures.  I thought I was pretty sophisticated.  It was a bit shocking to have to admit that I did not like a whole culture.  I grew up under the influence of WWII Veterans.  The Vietnam War raged before my eyes.  My intercultural experiences were not so broad - Greenland and Spain.  To put it delicately, I had no appreciation of Asian Culture.  So, I chose to study Japan.
While I still have not traveled to an Asian country, that single assignment was life altering.  I gained a sense of continuity, ancestry, and personal spiritual growth.  Most important, I have carried a belief that there are wonderful things to be gained from really examining how someone different travels this earth.  There are many paths.  We can all benefit from exploration.  

Sunday, December 13, 2009


What often gets us in trouble in life is expectations.  Our employer has certain expectations - fail them - we are out of a job.  Society has expectations - many of which are legislated - break them and there are consequences.  Families and friends have expectations.  Break them and conflicts ensue.
Our struggle is in determining if the expectations are reasonable and rational.  I love my job.  I am salaried which comes with an expectation that I will do whatever is needed when it is needed to be done.  To some, what I do to meet that expectation may seem unreasonable and irrational.  But I feel I am getting the return on that investment that is very reasonable.  As long as the company's expectations and mine are met, we have a happy union.
Personal relationships are the same.  Are the expectations reasonable and rational?  Is the return on investment positive on both sides?  When it is not, the relationship unravels.  
I notice with myself that I come unglued when I have expectations that are not being met.  Are my expectations realistic, reasonable and rational?  Does the other person know what I am expecting in return for my investment?  It's a two party contract.  Both parties need to know the parameters.  It's only going to work well if expectations match.  When they do, there is great joy.  It's a happy union.  
It can take serious work to get to that place.  I have had struggles with my job.  There have been times that I felt the balance was not good and even wanted to walk away.  I am very thankful that I did not!  
The successful personal relationships are the same.  We work through those expectations.  We find the space where we can find the greatest joy.  These are happy unions.  It is worth the struggle to find that joy.