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Love Deeper Than Some Hate

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Over the course of my 60 years of life I’ve been beaten, persecuted, hated and threatened for being “different.” And you know the interesting part – WE ARE ALL DIFFERENT! Each of us was created to be unique by the Divine.

I knew I was gay around age four or five. I can’t tell you how I knew but it is not uncommon for gay people to know at such an early age. As you can imagine it was a secret I kept as long as possible. I dared not tell anyone. I knew exactly what would happen because each time I entered church or went to school it was made very clear just how much my “kind” was hated.

At age eighteen I finally told my parents and yes, my worst nightmare did come true. I was sent to a physician who sexually molested me. Then I was locked in a psychiatric hospital because they thought I was depressed. I was despondent because I’d just been violated and the two people who were supposed to love me told me I was a business risk, I was going to hell, that I broke their hearts, and I should go live at the YWCA.  My parents were taught by their religion to despise gay people while also having to make sense of contradictory messages such as “thou shall not judge” and “love your neighbor as yourself” and “treat other people as you want to be treated.” Now faced with their worst nightmare too, they feared being shunned by their religious, social and business communities.  Their solution was for me to change so they sent me to a psychiatrist in another town. I’ll never forget the look on my parent’s face when the doctor told them he would not and could not change me since I was #BornThisWay. Like so many other things that make us unique, being gay is biological, no matter what we are taught to believe in ancient religious beliefs that justify condemning others. So what the doctor would do is help me learn to accept myself in a world that flat out did not.

Today, my parents are two of my biggest fans and best friends. They no longer fear being shunned or hated themselves because over forty years ago they began bravely questioning their beliefs. When they did, they found love is stronger than fear. Acceptance more loving than judgment. And, what other people think of me is not as important as what they know to be true of me.  It turns out my parents always loved me. They just had no clue how to accept me while also following their religious beliefs. Apparently they made peace with that because the only thing I now feel from them is complete and unconditional love. The same as if Jesus himself were loving me.

With each harmful action I see happening as a result of the green flag some feel they have been given to act on their hate of those who are different than they are, the resolve I have to do whatever is necessary to #BeLoveInAction to support ALL of my fellow American’s and “different” citizens of our world – black, brown, white, young, old, Muslim, Jewish, disabled, gay, – has strengthened. After a life-time of being hated for being born gay – something so irrelevant to my character – I know my decision to stand up #Indivisible against those who desire to divide us is clear, because I will not go back on the promise I made to God to #LoveDeeper than some hate.

I am not alone. Jesus made a similar decision long ago. I look at my decision as simply doing what Jesus would as #AnAmbassadorOfLove.

When Not Knowing It All is Great!

Outstanding Nation

I spent twenty years getting a formal education. I received a high school diploma, an associate’s degree and my bachelor’s. After being in the work world for many years I returned to earn a master’s degree in management/leadership. It was a three year, forty-eight credit hour executive program which meant I was required to have a certain number of years’ experience in supervisory, management and executive positions to be considered for admissions.

It’s been twenty-two years since I received my graduate degree. Before my master’s degree, and after, my work history included running for-profit and not-for-profit organizations. I was privileged to manage, recruit and train large staffs and allocate large budgets. I wrote and implemented several long-term strategic and marketing plans. I hired and released many people during my professional tenure. As CEO and COO I was the spokesperson, the leader, the face of the organization, and liaison to other organizations. Therefore, as the person at the top, the success or failure, while not completely on my shoulders alone, did finally rest with me.

I have an idea of how effective organizations work and the leadership skills necessary to guide them to success. And, while I readily admit I do not know everything about running every organization, I have learned much about what does and does not work. So, here are a few fundamental things I’ve learned. I share these with you as we watch our current political climate unfold because it is always responsible to remember WE THE 325 + Million PEOPLE of the United States are the major (stakeholders) in our country (organization).

Any successful endeavor, whether it is a personal or professional relationship, depends on clear, concise, thorough, frequent and direct communication. There can be no ambiguity, lying, taunting, false news stories, vilifying investigative reporting, bullying, egocentric posturing, or mixed messages in a successful organization. Without transparent, regular, respectful and honest communication there will be NO trust built among workers, stakeholders and constituents. Without trust there will be no success for the leadership. Eventually those who do not communicate effectively and honestly are deemed untrustworthy and are removed from the organization.

Each productive, respected and effective leader gains a majority buy-in of a mission, vision and strategic plan for the organization. A strategic plan is developed with care and great attention to detail. While an organization must remain flexible to move with the ebb and flow of unforeseen circumstances in achieving its goals, a sound and competent leader does not vacillate wildly on the direction of the organization. Organizations do not succeed, long-term, if the goals of leadership and those in positions of power fluctuate crazily or differ from the goals of the majority of shareholders (majority of citizens in our scenario).

Without seasoned and experienced employees in key positions, the drain on organizational resources (money, time, efficiency, strategy, opportunities, relationships, etc.) will be much greater than for a leader who hires the best qualified for a job. Effective leadership hires those with relevant and applicable experience for the position for which they are hired. Leaders know to establish cohesion and effectiveness within the organization there must be appropriate experience in positions of great importance. A real danger to overall organizations success is that those hired (appointed) without the necessary and applicable experience may have conflicts of interest between a personal agenda and the goals of the organization (citizens). Also, inexperience creates a learning curve situation, and naïveté may create challenges and controversies for the organization that experience and training could prevent.

Whether an organization is large or small, the person (people) at the top need to remain in touch with the masses who work for and are benefited by the organization. Listening to those from the lowest to highest levels is mandatory for decision-makers. Without a finger on the pulse of the people who make up an organization (majority of citizens) no leader will be effective or last any length of time. Eventually, organizational culture will disintegrate as a result of leadership disconnectedness. The organization will become stagnated and ineffective. One warning sign of stagnation is that the organization experiences internal conflict and stops producing positive and desired results.

Ethical, moral and legal impeccability begins at the top and is mirrored down the line. Unethical and illegal business dealings will eventually be the downfall of any dishonest organization as stakeholders (citizens) always demand the best behavior from those in positions of power over others. The bottom line is, we truly admire those who remain people of honorable character, no matter how big the bribe. And no corrupt organization can withstand the eventual backlash created by disgruntled stakeholders.

Overall, effective leaders are composed, balanced, honest, and exude an air of dependable, rational mental and physical decorum. Executive excellence is dependent on authentic, humble self-confidence, self-control, forethought, integrity, respect for differing points of view and a devotion to creating compromise. Only the world’s autocrats, dictators and tyrants view those who disagree with them as enemies. True leaders welcome differing as an effective tool to the collaborative process. Effectual leadership knows cooperative dialogue and varying points of view results in the best solutions to challenges. Successful leaders know they do not know everything.

Attitude is Everything

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I’ve never been one to follow the crowd. My early experience with organized religion steered me off the path of blindly swallowing the practices and beliefs of others to forge my own trail. My spiritual teachers have been real life people who manage to stay loving, peaceful, and who always find the positive, even under the worst of situations.

One of my most profound teachers was a young woman of 17. When she was raped by a man she considered a safe friend, her response was“what do I need to learn from this horrible experience.” As you can imagine I was shocked. At first, I did not comprehend how she could not be angry and want revenge? But then I realized she was making an intentional choice to take a terrible situation, one she was powerless to prevent or change, and turn it around to find what SHE needed to do to move herself forward. I knew that level of courage and self-reflection was directly from God.

I chose then and there, if this young woman could find the silver lining in her experience, there is no reason I cannot live the same way. I accepted the only thing standing between living this heart-first way, or not, is a choice. That was the powerful realization that changed my entire perspective and solidified my knowing we are indeed spiritual beings (souls) on great human adventures.

Over thirty years later I am still passionately devoted to finding the light, even in the darkest situations. I am happy to report choosing a positive attitude has served me well; through Barbara’s cancer, the murder of a friend, death of loved ones, illness, living in a world where acts of violence impact innocent people, job loss, relationship break-ups, losing almost everything, and so much more. Yes, I’ve certainly had my share of heart-break and loss. But I credit my ability to bounce back quickly and to remain focused on positive to the angels in my life. Those who taught me I always have the choice to see my glass as overflowing, even when the tap looks like it may run dry.

Control Your On-Line Image


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Recently I wrote a piece for an on-line magazine for its spirituality section. Although the article was about forgiveness and love, the editor wanted to put my photo in front of the word hate to accompany the article. After much discussion and protest on my part the photo was changed, but he did so begrudgingly.

One very huge fact bothered me about this. EVERY photo put on the internet stays on the internet forever.  The photo of me smiling with the word hate behind me would have gone out onto the world without the accompanying article and would have stood alone without explanation.  People Googling my name would pull up the photos of me and there would be my smiling face with the big word HATE behind me.  You may not remember, but I do, the negative impact a standalone photo had on a very young Jane Fonda when she innocently held up a rifle in Vietnam during the war. A photo was snapped of her smiling face holding the rifle and to this day she is still thought by some to be a traitor. But the truth is she was too young to know the reality of what was going to happen and allowed herself to be used and abused as a result. And this was way before the internet.

Love yourself by evaluating what you put out on the internet.  Not from fear, but simply from the perspective of knowing it will be around forever.  Make certain you are proud of what you are saying and doing. Make sure you are not allowing other people to have any control whatsoever over the image you are leaving out there. Make certain you are proud of what you are saying and doing.

 


The Power of Hope

I was adopted. All the dogs I’ve had were adopted. And, Barbara and I recently adopted a 54 year old woman who, without our help, would be homeless.

We don’t have lots of money. But we have big hearts and great faith. We cannot let her be put out on the street or go hungry if we can lend a hand. We’ve cut back in every way we can so we can send what we can to a new friend who is doing everything within her power to stay afloat. What we are giving is the lifeline she needs to get back on her feet. Exactly the same lifeline I received when I was adopted and received again when I was down and out.

We have faith very soon she will again be able to make it on her own. Until then B and I feel grateful to be in the right place at the right time to give hope to someone who’d all but lost hers. We believe what goes around comes around. We’re okay if the only thing that comes back is the joy of knowing we did what we could when God asked us to do so.

Be Love In Action

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I think you know I’m not the type person who is going to sit around and wait for other people to go first to make OUR world a better place. So, here are five MORE things I do each day that if you do too, WE WILL CHANGE THE WORLD in a very good way.

  1. Refuse to gossip. About ourselves, other people, politicians, actors, anyone. Yes, we can go through life without participating in this destructive and harmful pastime. We can absolutely support others as we want to be supported because we actually raise ourselves up by lifting one another up, NOT by tearing each other down.
  2. Respect others as we want to be respected. That means we respect even those who do not respect themselves enough to be respectful of others.
  3. Apologize when we mess up. We’re not perfect. But we can admit when we’re wrong, when we make a mistake, and we must genuinely mean it by working hard not to make the same mistakes again.
  4. Pick up trash and litter in our neighborhoods, parks, and public spaces. No it may not be our trash but we can do something positive about it.  We teach children how to dispose of waste responsibly.  And we do what we see needs to be done to lead by example to keep our world clean.
  5. We reach out to those who are lonely. Those who feel unseen, unheard, unloved. We smile, say hello, stop and have a conversation with someone we meet. People who feel a part of something good don’t fall victim to joining something bad. Yes, it takes a caring and active village to raise responsible children who grow into caring and responsible adults.

See it really is very easy to make a positive difference each and every day to be LOVE in ACTION.

 

Why?

My heart

My skin is white because my parents were white.  I did not choose the color of my skin. I also did not choose where I lived growing up, the religion I was told to believe, the food I was given to eat, or the stuff I was taught in school. Like you, my parents and the society in which I was raised tried their best to mold me into who they wanted me to be.

Of course, I rebelled. Some children stop asking why as they grow up. I may have stopped asking out loud, but inside WHY is always in my heart. I learned early in life to filter my thoughts, experiences, other people’s opinions, through the love in my heart. To do so I had to ask WHY because I was NOT going to be racist. I was NOT going to be judgmental of people who did not look like me. I was NOT going to condemn people who did not go to the same church I did. I was NOT going to discount people who did not believe what I was told I must believe. I was NOT going to live in fear. Or be controlled. Or tolerate injustice, inequality or negative status quo.

From a young age I was uncomfortable with anything but love, and believe me I experienced so much that was not love.  But I chose to ask why, to question everything and everyone who did not align with the positive behavior of love. That is how I learned to walk my LOVE talk. I taught myself what it means to lead with my heart by asking WHY of all that does not feel good and right to my soul.

Love is the Golden Rule

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A woman was standing in line at a local coffee shop when the two women in line behind her began saying derogatory things about her. They cut down her size, what she ordered, her hair, and more.  The woman fought back tears as she tried to imagine how two complete strangers, people she did not know and had never met, could justify saying such hurtful things.

When she reached the counter she told the cashier to pay for two extra coffees for the women behind her. No matter how hurtful those two women chose to be she was not going to stoop to their level. She was determined to treat them as she wanted to be treated even when they did not treat her with the same respect.

Taking the high road is always the right thing to do. She never said one word to the two women but she did post her experience and received overwhelming support. To date the two bullies have not returned to the coffee shop.  They got the message loud and clear and the woman did not have to confront them personally. She knows we cannot reason with unreasonable people.  People who so readily hurt others are hurting themselves so the action that will have the most positive impact is to bring a “higher awareness to the situation than what created it in the first place.” (Albert Einstein) So she choose to spread LOVE – which has a Divinely guided way of paying back the negative deeds of others while allowing us to take the higher road to be the change we want to see. (Mahatma Gandhi)

A Gift of Love

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When my little buddy Austin was born his parents and all who know them were given a gift we did not anticipate. None of the prenatal tests revealed he would have Down syndrome – a genetic disorder caused by the presence of all, or part of a third copy of chromosome 21. Initially, it was easy to go down the road of sadness for how he will be treated, how he will live and thrive, how he will be happy in the world having to deal with physical growth delays and mild to moderate intellectual disability. But it did not take long for sadness to be replaced with deep joy at the gift his parents and all of us receive from knowing their special son.

Austin’s heart is so BIG he comforts those who are sad. He goes up to strangers and gives them a hug. He is always smiling, filled with joy and wonder. He is so connected to the kind, compassionate, loving part of his heart he beams LOVE in all directions. A LOVE so palpable, everyone with whom Austin interacts is touched by his presence and changed for the better. In my book, that makes Austin an angel who was created by LOVE to help teach us how to LOVE one another, with non-judgment, respect and kindness.

Five Ways You Can Change the World

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Personally I am tired of sitting around waiting on someone to rescue us from all that is wrong in the world.  So, here are five things I do each day, that if you do too, WE WILL CHANGE THE WORLD in a very good way.

  1. Make friends with your neighbors, the people at the places where you do business, at the gym, post office, church, you children’s school. People who care for one another look out for each other, respect one another, and build strong, resilient and peaceful communities. Sure it may take time and effort but good relationships improve everyone’s life.
  2. SMILE!  Makes people feel good and you feel good too.
  3. No ego-boxing. We don’t react to negative behavior with more negative behavior. We bring a higher level of awareness to situations. We’re all going through something. Unless we or another form of life is in physical danger we don’t get involved in the bad, rude or inconsiderate moods of others.
  4. Don’t make emotional, fast, or uninformed decisions. We cannot think clearly when we’re angry. It’s been proven by science.  So gather facts, be patient, and make certain the decisions you make are the best they can be based on being informed.  Never forget BREXIT.
  5. Use cloth grocery bags and cut out as much plastic as you can from daily life. We’ve got a real problem with plastic in our oceans. Without clean oceans YOU AND I cease to exist. Let’s not leave this to our children and their children to clean up.

See it really is very easy to make a positive difference each and every day by being LOVE in ACTION.