Monday, December 27, 2010


"Some myths describe some actual historical event, but have been embellished and refashioned by various story tellers over time so that it is impossible to tell what really happened." Encyclopedia Mythica.
A mythomaniac is someone who embellishes and refashions actual events consistently about most every aspect of their life, even seemingly trivial events. There's a level of emotional charge that becomes easy to spot as the embellishing and refashioning happens. It's as if the mythomaniac has learned that making the statements bolder with great enthusiasm ensures that the listener will believe it without checking the facts.
The mythomaniac will exaggerate his or her education, accomplishments, skills, value of possessions, community contributions and relationships. They are huge when they need to be huge. They are small when they need to be small. Those who have known the mythomaniac over time, know it's important to use caution in buying into any story the person tells. If the mythomaniac is aware of that, it doesn't always show. But they will try to isolate anyone who may expose myths. And they will be very nasty in creating myths in attempt to ensure that isolation takes hold.
Decent and polite people have a difficult time dealing with a mythomaniac. It's hard to believe someone would create total fictions and when there are seeds of truth within, it's not easy to sort out. It takes energy. It wastes energy. So, the mythomaniac goes on without confrontation.
Synonyms for mythomaniac would be con artist, pathological liar.
Do you have a mythomaniac in your life? I hope not because I know how difficult they can be to deal with. But know this - they cannot keep track of all the myths they tell. Time exposes them.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Do Tell

Today, the "Don't ask, Don't tell" policy for the military was repealed. We will no longer require that people who want to serve need to lie.
I lied. I am an Air Force Veteran and lied so I could serve. And when my Top Secret security clearance was awarded, my superior asked how I felt about homosexuals in the military having a top secret security clearance. I answered, "There are not supposed to be homosexuals in the military." He expressed concern that if there was, and if they had a clearance, they could be blackmailed.
Today, the threat of blackmail was removed.
I served honorably and was never the focus of a blackmail situation. It would have been devastating to me if my service was cut short. I would have chosen to protect my country first. The Air Force changed my life. It gave me discipline and courage. It launched me on my career path.
Repealing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" was the right thing to do. Now we need to repeal the "Don't ask, Don't Tell" attitude from our national attitude. Be. Do. Contribute. More important than telling is showing who you really are.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Stopping a Bully Movement

How did Hitler and the Nazi's build a movement that allowed millions of people to be killed and detained in concentration camps? Why didn't people stand up to stop it?
One country did! As the Nazi's moved into Denmark, one young man started a movement to stop a bully movement. One young man!!! He was 17.
PBS ran the Documentary "A Force More Powerful" 10 years ago. You can read more on Below is an except from that site describing what Arne Sejr did.

"Ten Commandments for Danes

Arne Sejr was seventeen when the Germans invaded. On the first day of the occupation, he noticed that people in his small town were friendly to the German soldiers, and he was outraged. He went home and typed up twenty-five copies of a list of "commandments" to his fellow Danes:

1. You must not go to work in Germany and Norway.

2. You shall do a bad job for the Germans.

3. You shall work slowly for the Germans.

4. You shall destroy important machines and tools.

5. You shall destroy everything that may be of benefit to the Germans.

6. You shall delay all transport.

7. You shall boycott German and Italian films and papers.

8. You must not shop at Nazis' stores.

9. You shall treat traitors for what they are worth.

10. You shall protect anyone chased by the Germans.

Join the Struggle for the freedom of Denmark!

Sejr then stuffed his list into the mailboxes of the most prominent people in his town. The commandments were later recopied and passed from hand to hand to people all over the country."

Please study your history! As the Nazi's gained momentum, much of the world was in a deep economic slump. Excellent communicators built a base of hatred and fear. Good and decent people stood by as those feared populations were rounded up and taken away. It wasn't only the Jews.

Fear can take over. Our own McCarthy era is a prime example. A threat of communism became a huge fear. Thousands of people were branded and blacklisted. If citizens like Edwin R. Morrow had not stood up and spoken up, a mob mentality could have prevailed.

We have that same threat today. As I hear the rhetoric of the Tea Party movement, I see that same mentality. Outrageous claims based on strange rationale and fears, threatens to sweep this country. Good and decent people - don't stand by!!! Hatred and fear is not our final solution. Think! Act! Speak! Don't stand idly by as the bully's work to round up those who have nothing to do the actual issues at hand. THINK!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Don't Ask, Don't Tell

In the course of a day, how often do we hear "my wife" or "my husband"? If you are married, how often do you say it?
Are those not terms to indicate to whom one is bonded? In a recent training I attended, we went around the room with introductions and were asked to tell something significant about ourselves. Over half of the attendees started with their married status and number of children. Long relationships were applauded. What would have happened if I announced that I am a lesbian?
"Don't ask, don't tell" represents more than a military policy in the United States. It's a measure of our society's acceptance of GLBT relationships. It's very closely tied to the right to marry in that our society is struggling with accepting bonds between same sex couples as equal to the bonds between a man and a woman. The civil rights associated with those bonds are denied to same sex couples. If one is in the military, you cannot even talk about it openly.
I often hear that our society has changed a lot and that most people don't care who you are sleeping with. Polls would indicate that is true. Most of those people, I would argue, prefer that you don't tell and they won't ask. They won't openly try to harm you, but they may not applaud if you announce in self introductions to strangers at a training session that you are in a same sex relationship.
Who you are sleeping with has been a long standing introductory question in our society. Are you married? How long? How many children do you have? Isn't that all about asking who you are sleeping with?
And tell the truth - if you ask someone who is 30, 40 or 50 years old - Are you married? Do you have children? And they answer no to both - would you ever follow up with the question - Are you gay or lesbian? How many gay or lesbian people would feel comfortable telling someone new - "No, I'm a lesbian or I'm gay"? It would be even more unusual to get the answer - "I am bi-sexual or transgender."
Interestingly, I do have straight friends that I feel confident would be really cool if someone answered that they were gay or lesbian. They would be comfortable, however, because they know gay and lesbian people. They have a positive frame of reference and would very likely quickly begin a chat about their lesbian friend. But I am not sure these same friends are advocates for striking the military's Don't ask, don't tell policy. And I am not confident they are all open advocates for GLBT civil rights. I'm only certain that they would try to do no harm.
As a lesbian, I would have a very difficult time answering questions from a virtual stranger about married status and children with, "no, I'm a lesbian." That difficulty comes from a negative frame of reference - an expectation that the person on the other side may not have a positive reaction.
Generally, we are uncomfortable on both sides of the introduction. Don't ask, don't tell has been the socially acceptable way of handling things. The announcement of same sex commitments as engagements or marriages or in any other manner is just not accepted as a routine conversation in the same manner as intersexual relationships.
At the core, this issue is about civil rights. Federal courts are hearing the arguments and ruling that facts do not support a need to protect society from GLBT people. Just as the court rulings supporting civil rights for blacks in the late 50's and into the 60's were ahead of legislation and society's acceptance of equality, the courts are now ahead of society's acceptance of equal rights for GLBT people.
Don't ask, don't tell has to go away for those on both sides of the conversation. The next time I am asked by a stranger if I am married or have children, I really should answer - "No, I'm a lesbian." Hmmm. I wonder if I will.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Friendship is Trust

How do we build trust? I believe it is mostly about believing that a person's motives are true to our shared goals. It does not matter if it is a personal relationship or a professional relationship. Do we both have a shared vision for a final outcome?
The depth of our trust is based in how well we understand our shared vision for a specific outcome. Our understanding only comes with open communication.
Broken communication will nearly always result in a break in trust. We do not know the person's vision or motives. We wind up filling the gaps - deciding what their motives are or what their vision is without hearing it directly from them.
We will be wrong at LEAST 50% of the time.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Precious moments

The warmer weather and brighter days create blossoms of all kinds. My house is over 100 years old and previous owners planted wonderful flowering gifts. I've added a few and try my best to tend the old ones. I'm not a master gardener and don't stay home enough to do all that I should but I love it. Especially the many rose bushes. If I tend them well, they will bloom up to Thanksgiving sometimes.
Cut back the ones not blooming before they are bare. Work to keep the pests away. Clear the weeds and debris. And the plants are happy - stay healthier and bloom more.
Hmmmm - a life lesson maybe?

Friday, May 28, 2010

What you think I said....

"I know that you believe you understand what you think I said, but I’m not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant".

The greatest challenge in relationships of any kind is communication. I believe the reason we can have great difficulties with those closest to us is that we believe we know what they think and what they mean. There is at least a 50/50 chance we are wrong.
I wish I would take the time to ask more before I leap to conclusions and I sure wish people I care about would do the same. It sure is nice to have people close to me who are willing and able to ask. And even nicer when they actually believe me when I say "I know you believe you understand what you think I said, but I'm not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant".

Thursday, May 13, 2010

What's it like to be you?

I love the TV segment, often on "Sunday Morning", where the guy throws a dart at a map, goes to the town, then picks a name randomly out of the phone book - that person is interviewed. His premise is that everybody has a story to tell.
As I get to know new people, I have become more and more focused on the question - "What's it like to be you?" What makes you happy? What makes you sad? What makes you angry? How have you arrived at your attitudes and beliefs? What do we have in common? What makes us different?
Everybody does have a story to tell. And maybe if we take a moment to see people - hear people - in a more curious and less judgemental way, we can learn something.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Are you busy enough?

In the last year or so I've gotten out a lot. Concerts, fundraisers, Chamber Mixers, artist events, plays, ground breaking ceremonies, social time with friends.... And I keep seeing the same faces over and over again. They are the ones making things happen. Talk with them and they quickly tell about something positive they are working on.
What they don't do, is talk about other people and boo hoo about life. They don't gossip. They don't talk about things that really are not your business and they don't talk about things that are none of theirs.
I'm certain they have struggles in their lives. I'm certain they have opinions. But their focus is larger than the average. They see a larger community. Their goal is harmony and building toward a greater good. That is what they are busy about.
I'm finally learning that those who are busy about other people's specific lives simply are not busy enough doing anything positive in their own. I listen more carefully these days. If the talk is about what individuals should or shouldn't be doing in their lives - and it really is just personal BS, I don't want to be around them.
I want to be around those focused on building something, not gossip mongering.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Ripples in the Pond

If there's one thing I have learned this year, it's how important it is to build positive relationships.  Even more important is to keep positive people close and negative people at a distance.  Words are powerful things.
It's nearly impossible to keep negative statements and negative attitudes from sticking in our mind somehow.  Even if you know they are not right, you exert a certain amount of energy on the negativity.  I generally don't shy away from people and have always been quite tolerant of people who could be difficult to deal with.  Those relationships are not positive.  They drain energy.  Stay in that place and it will feel like a whirlpool - churning and churning in a circle that goes nowhere.
Get around positive people with positive attitudes and the energy grows - yours, theirs and a new collective energy.  Positive people overcome challenges, create a shared vision, and get things done.  They possess qualities of thankfulness, recognition of the contributions of others, clarity of purpose.  When they throw a stone in the pond, the ripples never stop doing more good.  
The most important thing positive people demonstrate is the understanding and the skills required to build and maintain healthy relationships.  When they walk in a room, people take notice and want to be near them.  They lift the mood.  That's who I want to be and who I want to be around.   

Monday, February 1, 2010

What is Progressive?

Last weekend was the first PA Progressive Summit in Harrisburg.  More than 500 people gathered from varied perspectives to talk about how to better solve serious issues.  It was an amazing mix - labor, education, women's rights, LGBT rights, environmentalists, interfaith community... all feeling we shared much common ground in our desire to make our communities better.
What I love about the experience is that the focus was solutions.  While the issues and stumbling blocks were discussed, there was an overwhelming sense of focus on overcoming the issues and removing roadblocks.  There was no name calling or character assassination regarding those on opposing sides.  There was no talk of protests and attack strategies.
We talked about building bridges, communicating more effectively, building strong social relationships, and supporting those in our communities with similar vision.  I also heard great wisdom about dealing with those who may seem to oppose the issues we may raise.  It was very much an overall message of lifting one another up and lifting our communities - finding common ground through which we can make progress.
It was wonderful to see people I crossed paths with before - from Harrisburg, DC and in other gatherings.  I walked away feeling great about a growing network across the state and feeling great about the positive people I've grown to admire in Venango County.
In my mind, being progressive means working for solutions.  It's about seeing things that need done and finding ways to do them.  
1. Moving forward; advancing.
2. Proceeding in steps; continuing steadily by increments: progressive change.
3. Promoting or favoring progress toward better conditions or new policies, ideas, or methods

Check out details at

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Onward and Upward

Life is all about learning and growing.  That usually means pushing beyond what is known and comfortable.  I've learned the most when there was great conflict involved.  And the greatest joys have been when conflicts were overcome.  
I am solution oriented and find it very frustrating when I'm confronted with people who are battle oriented.  The battle seems more important to them than any ideal to work toward.  They thrive on the fight.  
I've not been good about seeing these people coming before becoming embroiled in conflict.  I've been thinking a lot about the signs and about the things in me that leads me down these paths.
Battle people hold onto a lot of hurt - every insult, every wrong, all the ways other people have not measured up.  That's a huge sign.  
The message for me is that I don't want to be a battle person.  I need to be less focused on hurt and more focused on positive things.  It's no fun living life angry.  Focusing on the anger just makes every insult - every wrong - loom larger than it probably really needs to be.
There are many conflicts in life - many things to do to make our world a lot better.  I want to be about solutions - Onward and Upward!