I have stuff. Stuff from my past, stuff business, stuff that needs to be done at home, stuff with relationships; but hey, don’t we all?
Our stuff can shape who we are, who we will become, and what we attract into our lives. How often do you catch yourself on auto-pilot? Just going through the motions and not paying attention to the pain in your life? I spent years doing that. Shoving down the pain, avoiding it, rising above it, and starting over again and again when I really didn’t want to start over; again!
Pema Chödron, in her book Pain and Suffering; Life Wisdom talks about sitting with the suffering. I can tell you, that is uncomfortable. Allowing yourself to be present and feel all the feelings that come up when you confront issues in your life and life events that have occurred. Especially if I have to confront a pain that was caused by myself! It hurts, it is embarrassing, and the most difficult part is to break the pattern of avoiding.
Moving past a life event that leaves the feeling of anger and pain is very difficult. Emotional growth is not for the faint of heart.
As I live and move and breathe into a higher consciousness, I have to sit with my past, my choices, my not so pretty moments and really evaluate what I could have changed. It is extremely humbling. I believe we are all here to serve a higher purpose than just getting through this life. My goal is to keep transforming my pain and claim my authentic power so I can then be the light for others who are ready.
Last week I talked about my decision to be confirmed as an Episcopalian. This week I wanted to give you the up-date. I DID IT! Was it easy? Absolutely not.
Anytime we do something meaningful we are faced with fears of doing something new, changing something up, and doubts about our readiness. I have been taking the Episcopal 101 class to get a deeper understanding of the formation of the church and their beliefs. I was surprised to learn that I am aligned with their beliefs. I was raised to believe that I wouldn’t be aligned with other faiths. I also learned how be more intentional about my worship that opened up my Spirituality to a new level.
Even with all my meetings with Father Joe, attending a weekly healing service to work through fears, and all the education and worship time on Sunday mornings, all my old fears came up. The Wednesday before confirmation I was almost convinced I might back out. I spent time in the sanctuary of the Parish before going to the healing service in the chapel that Wednesday. I needed to figure out if I was at peace with my decision to be confirmed. I knelt in the dark with staring at the lit up cross of Christ on his throne. I was seeking confirmation that I was making the right decision and I humbly asked that I would have a knowing in my soul.
In the very next moment, I had the urge to look up the words to the song; It is Well with My Soul. I found the lyrics on my phone, and as I was kneeling I sang the hymn that I love so much. This was the same hymn that was being sung at the Metropolitan Community Church when I was struggling to own my homosexuality. As I sang the verses of that song, a peace came over me and once again I knew that it truly is well with my soul to embrace a more structured worship into my spirituality practice.
So where is the fear coming from? When I went to healing service I again asked that I would not back out and that I would be surrounded with strength to manage the old fears by affirming the peace that I felt earlier. Are we not our worst enemies at times? As you can see by the picture, I did not back out.
The morning of confirmation I had humbly asked that when the Bishop prayed the confirmation prayer for me that I would have a visceral feeling within my Soul. I wanted this to be a whole body experience! Following the prayer, I returned to my seat and the tears started to flow. I was flooded with feelings of years of pain. I was so overwhelmed with a feeling of connection and love. The release of those tears was…. well…. Divine! Father Joe said it best when he came to give me Peace (it’s a time to greet each other in the Parish) following the confirmation.
“Welcome Home,” he said.
He was right. I have found a home to be myself, to doubt, to ask questions, to struggle, and to grow. I have found a home where my Parish family is open, supportive and they live and move and breathe the walk of Christ. I have found a home in “the Jesus Movement,” as the Rt. Rev. Bishop Anne Hodges-Copple said in her meeting with us that morning. Being fully embraced and loved is a feeling I never thought I would feel in a church. The feeling is so sweet.
Are you looking for a loving community? I know where you can find one! Feel free to reach out…..I will meet you there and welcome you home.
I am 60 years old. Most of my life I have been searching for; me. I started out so unsure of my own worth, my place on the earth, my dharma (mission, purpose, point of my existence) that I was always searching. I wanted to be a writer, a teacher, a nun, a missionary, a preacher, a youth minster, a talk show host; you get my drift.
What was I searching for and why couldn’t I find it? I remember that many of my ideas about how I could serve were quickly shot down with the opinions of those who love me.
Your stories are so gory I don’t think you can make money doing that
You can’t be a nun, you aren’t Catholic and Catholics are going to hell
Youth ministers aren’t paid so you’ll have to get married and then volunteer with the youth in your husband’s church
We don’t have female ministers
You aren’t famous so you can’t have a talk show
To the fairness of those who offered their opinions, some of those things were true. Women of my church growing up were not preachers and our churches did not pay youth ministers, my stories were gory, and I was not Catholic. (BTW, I never understood why nuns or Catholics in general were going to hell, AND I still don’t believe that is true.)
I know down in my core I want people to be happy. I want to make things okay. I want to make a difference. I want to inspire others. I want to serve in a meaningful way. I also know that I have a very innate need to have a deep faith and even when I was told being Gay would send me to hell, I still searched for my Source, Creator of All that Is inside of me. I still felt a disconnect and that there was still a piece missing.
My search took me to India, at the age of 18, to build a church in the town where our missionaries were stationed. Home sickness and dysentery and other health issues ended in me asking God to redial because I felt I had picked up the wrong calling!
I did go to our church school, Berkshire Christian College, and received a BA in Theology and a Teaching Certificate. The teaching certificate would pay me as I volunteered in a church with the youth. I did plan to be married by the time I graduated from college!
I used my certificate as a substitute teacher after over half the teachers in the state of Massachusetts were laid off when I graduated and NC was not hiring either when I returned home. I then went on to graduate school to serve as a School Counselor, a counselor for terminally ill children at Hospice, a mental health Therapist and a Therapist at a Private Practice.
Through all of that searching, I realized I was still searching for that deep inner knowing that God is real, that God loves me as I am, and that I am worthy to serve others in whatever capacity I am led to serve. I don’t have to be straight, I don’t have to be perfect, I don’t have to have all the answers.
What I do need is people who will love and support me in my search for the answers to my deep questions. To that end, after all these years, after being told I am an abomination for being Gay, and after having really bad experiences in churches, I have found my people.
On Sunday, February 9th, 2020 I will be confirmed into the Episcopal Church at the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd in Asheboro, NC. I have stopped fighting, hiding, and ignoring that I have lived in hatred and fear of what has been done to me in the name of God. I AM reclaiming my faith, the God of my understanding, my questions, my doubts, and my RIGHT to be in communion with God, I have chosen a parish where the people of God also know I have the right to be there and understand that I was created to be Gay just like others are created to be Heterosexual, Transgender, Bisexual, etc.
I am scared and that is how I know that this is an ordained shift in my life. God never said the journey would be easy or without fear. Fear is usually a great indicator that the next step is going to be epic! It hasn’t been an easy journey and may never be but I will seek refuge in the knowing that I am chosen and I am worthy and I am Coming Home.
If you have struggled in your spiritual journey and/or have been told you are not going to heaven because you are LGBTQ; feel free to search for the FB group; Gay with God. Answer the questions to be seen on the inside. I’ll see you there!
It is amazing how many times I have said that as long as I am above ground and still breathing, I am not done yet!
It is a gift to wake up every morning and know that I have another day to serve, another day to love, another day to bring my joy to whatever comes my way. I sometimes make plans that do not work out the way I intended. Now, I am more okay with going with the flow of synchronicities and opportunities.
It is in that flow where I feel the most inspired and am tapped into my Source. I hope that you can find a joyful purpose in every day you wake up above ground and still breathing!
Roddie; our beloved Corgi boy; the Prince of Yodel-ville… the Rod Man…. suffered a trauma. Even though he is now home, gaining weight, getting stronger, and reconnecting with the sights and sounds of home…. he is not done. He is still unpacking his trauma.
We see it on our morning walks. He is much slower due to losing muscle tone and pain due to physical issues around the site of his bite when he was attacked by a neighbor’s dog walking on his morning walk on 11-9-2019. The vet saw trauma on his x-ray that appears to be a ruptured knee sac, and believes there is ligament and tendon damage. He also has a broken fibia…… those jaws were powerful.
We see it in his interactions with other dogs and humans. Once, he was outgoing and engaged with anyone and everyone; dogs, cats and humans alike. Now, he holds back and doesn’t approach, even looking wary of those who approach him. Once he is petted, he begins to soften but the playful light in his eyes is not always present.
We see it in his interactions with his fur siblings. When he returned home he had a skin infection and the odor was pungent and his siblings didn’t recognize him due to his odor. There were weeks of avoidance between the kids and he was not in his leadership role. Over the last two weeks, he has begun to emerge back into his dominant role and is being the silent general. He is letting them know if their play is too much and he will stand up, walk in between them, and let them know to knock it off!
We see it in how he relates to the scents and sounds around him. He gets a distant look on his face and even when called to come; he doesn’t respond. There are times when he is outside that he just sits and looks off into the distance.
He shows signs of hypervigilance on his morning walk. He reacts to every sound; a dog barking inside a house or off in the distance, looking under cars, sniffing the road, looking behind him and he still reacts to the sounds of doors opening, His pace will quicken and he immediately is back into flight mode. Starring straight ahead and just trying to go. It is in those moments where we stop walking, call his name and put our hands on him and affirm his safety. We wait until his eyes return from flight mode and we turn him around to let him see there is nothing behind him and he is not being attacked.
Unpacking trauma is a lengthy and individual process. Roddie is making strides everyday as he reclaims pieces of himself that have taken a seat in the back row. Healing will happen… how much….. when….. are to be determined. What it will take is patience, love, understanding, and a push at the right time to not stay stuck in the trauma but continue to unpack it and move through it.
People experience trauma in very similar ways. The one thing that separates fur babies from people is that we have the ability to use our words and our insights to move through the trauma. Talking it out, getting a coach to validate the trauma and to provide a healing space to unpack the trauma is crucial. A coach can offer you support to confront the your fear so you can unpack the trauma and reclaim the pieces of you that are in your back row.
If you are ready to unpack a traumatic life event that is holding you back from reclaiming who you are…. I would be honored to be there for you. To schedule your free / complimentary session; click the link below.
I got the voice message the morning of November 9th. That day is, for now, emblazoned in my mind. “I can’t find him!” Those were the only words that I could understand through the panicked tears trying to tell me what had happened. Fear ripped through my heart and my breath stopped for a second. WHY hadn’t I taken my phone with me when I went out for my morning walk? HOW could I have missed this call? WHY was on the mountain and not there to help?
When I regained some composure I called back to hear my wife explain that she and our fur babies were attacked on their morning walk by a neighbor’s dog who came out of their house, ran across the yard, into the road, and to the other side of the street to get to them. My wife tried to protect our three kids by getting in front of them and trying to pull them back; while they tried to get in front to protect her. She sustained multiple bites while trying to protect and defend. What had happened next is now the worst day of our lives.
Our 10 year old Pembroke Welsh Corgi, Roddie; became the target. The dog went around my wife and grabbed Roddie by the back leg and clamped down. The owner had to pry his mouth off of Roddie and when he did that Roddie bolted. In his panic and pain, he ran down the road and down our driveway. For a brief moment, my wife was relieved thinking he was headed home. As the neighbor had to hold his dog back so he wouldn’t continue to attack; my wife and the kids ran after Roddie. She couldn’t believe that when she got to our porch; he wasn’t there. She put the girls in the house and took off through the woods. As she got to the end of the easement ….he had vanished.
I can’t explain how we survived the next agonizing 24 days without our boy. We followed every lead. I stayed awake at night, until my body betrayed me; with porch lights on, gates opened, watching the doors for his face to look back at me. Our tribe, known and unknown surrounded us. We collectively walked the woods multiple times, in freezing rain and frigid temperatures, put up signs, went door-to-door handing out flyers; trying to hear his bark. We hired pet communicators, trackers and a friend paid for drones to fly over. We put an ad in the paper that we kept running, and our local radio station picked up the story. We bought more duck tape and clear tape and poster boards than I have in my whole life, our friends pitched in to make copies of flyers and buy more poster board and make signs. A friend offered his online ad spot to us and a dear soul created an online ad that would flash up anytime someone googled an animal site. We started a GoFundMe page that demonstrated the Compassion in Action and Generosity of loved ones, friends, and strangers which also included financial support by friends and family personally. ! I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t rest, and my new business and all social engagements stopped. Collectively, it was #BRINGRODDIEHOME. That became our facebook community and WOW did they love and pray our boy home!
He is now home; safe, loved by his mommas and fur sisters and loved and supported medically by his first momma; who was his breeder and is now his vet. He lost at least 20% of his body weight; our first weight on him was not accurate to his inability to stay still. Flight mode takes a while to release. He is unpacking his trauma every day. He was different when we found him; eyes that looked right through you, covered in feces and stench, more skittish, exhausted, skinny, fragile, unable to stand for long periods of time, falling off his back end and his skin infection was so massive that even after several baths; a slight smell still lingers, a major slash across his neck signified the effort he made to leave the place he was tethered and ligaments around his original attack on his back leg was weak.
Roddie, and most animals, adjust to trauma much quicker than we humans. Every day he is more confident and the pack readjusted and is more comfortable. Roddie is eating well, is gaining pounds incrementally and has regained some strength. He still sleeps alot and is still on medication, albeit less, and doing laser treatments to heal his neck and his ligaments. All and all… we see improvement every day as he continues to sigh deeply and unpacks and releases his trauma.
The mommas are finally able to incrementally reclaim our work, our social lives, our home, and our schedules; while living with the trauma. Trauma just doesn’t go away when the storm is over. We are learning to live past the trauma and to adjust to a new normal that may stay new or gravitate back to the old way. Our main goal now is to offer love and stability to the pack and loving patience to Roddie so he is free to heal on his time schedule. We assure him that he is loved through all of it; no matter how long it takes. Our trauma comes in various forms. We have nightmares, find ourselves avoiding the place of the trauma, preparing for future threats, being over protective, and a desire to circle our wagons and stay to ourselves because, we have always felt safe here; and now, there has been a breech in our belief that we can protect our fur babies from threats.
I believe in the power of love and that love came to us abundantly from our community, our friends, and our loved ones. So we push back against the trauma because we have been bombarded with loving and supportive messages, calls, and on the ground support. Instead of staying circled behind the wagons, we have let people in and that is how we made it through this. Not alone and not by ourselves, we are still standing because we have been hugged, loved, and prayed through this experience that will leave us different. That difference is knowing that there are WAY more Angels around us than evil.
I thank God for that; as well as St. Anthony, St. Francis, and St. Rita who did God’s work as they were sent to do on Roddie’s behalf.
I returned from Kansas on Friday…. the longest day of my year. It started at 11:30pm. I had only been in bed since 9:30pm; but the hotel we stayed in didn’t feel right; multiple things had happened to let us know that we would never stay there again. When traveling with three fur babies you sometimes have to buck up because there are limited options. The final straw was when our hotel room opened up while I was coming out of the shower! The manager had neglected to log our room into the computer so the night staff gave a 3a.m. arrival our room! They opened our door with the key they were given…. thankfully we had changed the door so they couldn’t get all the way in or let our fur babies out!
We packed up early and left by 4 a.m. It had snowed the day before and it was icy and very cold.
The pic shows what happens when a semi passed us and all the salt and snow flew up on the road in front of us. In a second, I couldn’t see anything. Sweetie Peetie snagged the photo…. my heart had stopped but I knew better than to brake. It didn’t take long for it to clear and all was well.
Sometimes all is not well; and life can literally change in a second. What happens next is sometimes within our control and sometimes it isn’t. What is in my control is to start each day with my intentions for the road ahead; to be mindful, to be loving, to be kind, to be authentic, to be compassionate. Whatever happens next…I may be scared, I may be hurt; however, I will show up with my heart open and ready. That is all I really have control over is showing up authentically and living each moment fully.
I have discovered that Solace is held deep in my heart. I can be in a crowded venue and feel at peace. I can be in the woods or on a hiking trail and sometimes feel as if I am fretful or sad.
I take ownership of claiming my solace and choosing to feel peace. I can do this by redirecting my focus or attention from what I don’t want to feel and accessing peace from within.
This only works if I have cleared the negativity from within and made room to feel something different. Consider taking some time today to look inward and see whether you have a peaceful heart or are you filled with resentments, rejections and regrets. If the 3 R’s are still resonating inside you; they will need to clear those emotions so you can allow the solace in your heart. Once you have done that, you are ready to claim peace in any moment.
Today is a very special day. On October 14, 1995 among friends and some family, I stood face to face with the love of my life. We met in graduate school in 1983 and never once looked back at what our souls told us. We were meant to be together.
So, on that wonderful, sacred day, we spoke our handwritten promises to one another and exchanged bracelets that signified our love for one another. We didn’t exchange rings because at that time in our her-story gay marriage was prohibited. Even though the state did not condone it I believed that God did and I was going to have our love blessed. Under President Obama’s administration; we were able to legally marry which proved to me that equality is possible.
Life hasn’t been easy. Religious hatred is still alive and this country is still debating whether the LGBTQ+ Community deserve the rights and protections that other law abiding citizens have in our country. This current administration talks about repealing the marriage we finally received and the Supreme Court is still arguing about the protections that our community may or may not have. To this end….the end of separate protection for heterosexual couples and LGBTQ+ couples….. I will continue to stand, fight, speak out and speak up for our rights.
I spent Sunday afternoon with my cousin and her blood and chosen family as they celebrated the life of her husband that left this earth far earlier than anyone had expected. He has left a legacy of stories and love that will never die.
It is very evident to me that although family is used to denote who we are blood related to, Family is not always a blood connection. The collection of souls that attended Walt’s Celebration came from different backgrounds, beliefs, histories, sexual orientations and stories.
I thought my wife and I would be the only gay people in attendance but as it turns out; not true. My cousin and her husband created a family of love. They did that by being love, showing love, and living love. In turn, their love brought blood and chosen family to the celebration who made the time in their schedules, cancelled events in order to attend, and traveled great distances to be there; and we all did so because love was extended and pulled us all in.
We attract who we are; not what we want. If you want love in your life then you have to be love, show love genuinely from your soul and love will find you because you have become what it is you desire.
I celebrate and honor Walt’s legacy of love and am honored that not only did his love and his love for Cousin Candy draw me in….. my love drew them to me.