Sunday, May 29, 2011

Ten Speed Relationships

I bought an old ten-speed bike at a yard sale for ten dollars yesterday. I’ve been wanting a road bike for a while but I just don’t have the budget right now for what would be considered a decent entry level bike (been told I’d need at least an aluminum frame with carbon forks and stays - well over $1,000). My new bike is steel. And, it’s in my budget. I just know that riding on it will be different than my huge-tired, shock-absorbing (hence more work with less speed) mountain bike.

The whole bike thing got me to thinking about this bike as a metaphor for relationships.

My retro, red Ross roadbike.

We have all been in love relationships that can be like this bike. First there’s that initial choice of getting the bike or getting into a relationship. The desire has to be there. It was late in the day (in yard sale terms) when I spied it on the side of the road amongst the other treasures (or junk) that these people were selling. I couldn’t even tell you what else they had there - just that there was a lot of stuff. My eyes went right to this bike. How many other people passed it over? What didn’t they see in it that I did? Why was I seeing such potential?

Right off, the smooth, red finish of this Ross attracted me to it. When you see someone for the first time, we have (or don’t have) an attraction. I think that it is really important to have that physical attraction in a relationship. Next, I noticed that the frame was straight and solid. What a perfect thing to base everything on!

With closer inspection, I could see some slight rust on the chain and here and there. That’s probably because it hasn’t had any TLC in a little while. But, that’s purely cosmetic. Adds character if it doesn’t get scrubbed off. And, I'm good at giving TLC.

The brakes didn’t work, though they were intact. But the pads still looked and felt fine. Probably just some cables then that need to be replaced. Relationship wise? Maybe it’s with someone that hasn’t put on the brakes in a while to take time out to be in a solid relationship? Sometimes we ride from relationship to relationship. Always looking, always seeking. When we finally get in our mind that we’re in a good thing, we can gently apply the brakes and stay for a good, long while.

The walls of the tires had dry rot on them and they were basically flat. But, when we put air in them at the bike shop I took it to, they filled right up and stayed filled allowing me to test ride it. Like the first few dates perhaps? All might not be perfect, but you can go for a good ride if it does work…and that’s the journey of life together. The wheels were almost true and the rims didn’t seem to have any flat spots. That’s what makes a person go. Important to be capable of moving ahead in life without too many bumps – or at least going ahead smoothly through them.

The shifters and derailleurs were all quality, known parts and they seemed to work fine. When each person in a relationship has experiences that can add to each other’s lives and the way they deal with things, I see that as positive. To have the ability to shift or work through things in varying degrees of speed is good – well, especially just having the potential for it there.

The pedals on my new bike were fine by old pedal standards. What comes on most normal-run-of-the-mill bikes. I’m choosing to put on new $60 pedals that I can just clip my bike shoes into. I had the same ones on my mountain bike when I got that 7 or 8 years ago. I had taken them off because they seemed so different. I had been used to riding with cages for almost 20 years instead of clips. But, I was finding as of late, the cages on my mountain bike weren’t working for me either like they had in the past. My shoes would get caught on the pedals as I’d go in and out. I didn’t have the same pedal stroke power like I had with the clips. So, I put the clip pedals back on my mountain bike yesterday too. It’s going to take a bit to get used to riding with them. But, like in relationships, if one type isn’t working for you (why are we always drawn to the same type of person?), why not try something completely different?

So, overall, I have a new-old bike that I’m really excited about. The things it needs to make it decent are fairly minor, but important. That’s talking and communication. I have a great looking frame as a base that is solid and easy on the eyes. That’s like having an attractive woman in my life who is together and is my friend first and foremost. Now, I’m ready for the ride.

Love, loss, hope and new love

Friday, May 27, 2011

Getting Rid of Labels and Just Being

I have a friend who is teaching me about labels. How we are labeled in what we do and who we are. She doesn't like the thought of being labeled in any way. Whether it's how she describes herself or if she's in a relationship or not or how she feels about something. She just wants to be.

I know I've mentioned before that I don't see why people have to be labeled as gay or lesbian. Why can't we just love who we want to love without calling it anything?

Society is really to blame for labels. It wants us to divide into neat little groups. You're a this and I'm a that. We can fill those blanks in with many categories. But all those groups and their labels seem to stand out from one another. Some people start thinking that their group is better than another group. Next thing you know, they want to change that other group (or groups) to be more like them. Why not just accept people and things for who or what they are? Embrace the differences. Embrace the uniqueness. Embrace the being. Seems to me, this is why we've had fighting and wars and persecution and hatred for so long. Because we're labeled. Shouldn't we be learning from the past and from these labels? What is the point of studying history if we can't make changes and move ahead in our collective thinking?

What if we all just were? What if we all did things without feeling like it needed to be done in any certain kind of labeled way? What if we all just went about our days being us? We'd obviously still have to put into practice being good human beings. But, what if we did practice just being that?

I know I've heard this before. Maybe we all have? I know, for one, that I need to hear things a few times before they start making sense and sinking into my being. But, the point is that, it is sinking in now. You can teach an old dog (though this dog isn't even 44) new tricks. We just have to know that this is a better way of life. A better way of being.

I'm going to try harder to make this change in my own life. I want to enjoy life for what it is. I want to enjoy people and relationships for who and what they are in the moment and not worry about the labels. I'm just going to be.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

I'm All About the Free Hugs

Years ago I saw a video about a guy named, Juan Mann, who was holding up a sign in Sydney, Australia, that said, “Free Hugs.” That video has always stuck with me. The Free Hugs campaign video has had over 68 million hits. I think that it has also stuck with a few other people. You can see it at:

Two weeks ago, I went to see I Am, the Documentary. It’s a wonderful movie by director Tom Shadyac. In it, he showed a few snippits of the Free Hugs video and it got me thinking that I’d like to try something like that. I’m a big fan of hugs anyway. I’m the one at work who will freely give hugs to my coworkers who are having a tough day or have something going on in their lives that certainly can’t be hurt by a hug. I gave three hugs out to coworkers today. How many people can say they did that?

Tonight I went to a monthly business networking meeting for gays and lesbians that I’ve attended here and there. I decided to write on my name tag, FREE HUGS (with Barbara underneath in parentheses). I was rather well-received. What a nice way to meet someone with a hug vs. even a handshake! I knew a few people from past meetings or from circles of friends. But, I ventured out to meet new people and to introduce myself. Lots of people are shy or very business-like at these things. But, they’re there. I think a hug can totally break the ice or make someone feel immediately comfortable with you. I had a lot of great conversations and met a lot of nice, new people tonight.

If more and more people began to greet each other with hugs or just give out more hugs to people they may or may not even know, could you imagine how the vibrations of this world could change? Those vibrations of positive energy would just continue to spread more and more. With it, I’m envisioning a world of peace and hugging. I know I’m an optimist but that’s not a bad thing. Now, if only we could work on the kissing thing…

Monday, May 16, 2011

Coming Out...It's a Scary Thing

I caught a few minutes of a show on NPR radio last night about Matthew Shepard. How he was taken from a bar, brought out to a desolate area, tied up to a fence, beaten and left for dead. He was found the next day, but died a few days later from his wounds. All, because he was Gay.

I'd heard about Matthew before. And, others who have been beaten or killed because they were gay. And, every time, my heart would ache. The thought of people hurting other human beings because of this (well, for any reason) sickens me. I've always felt this way - even before I realized I was gay.

Being gay is no different to me than being a man or a woman or being black or white. It just is. It's how you're born.

You're probably thinking, but you weren't born that way? You came out in your mid-30s. Hindsight is 20/20. I can tell you a time when I was 4 years old where I knew I was gay. If I was gay at 4, I was probably born that way.

I wish people knew how hard it is to come out and to admit to the world that you're gay. (If we were all just accepted for who we were, coming out wouldn't even be an issue). There is tremendous turmoil that we deal with inside ourselves. A lot of it has to do with how we think our families or society will accept us. And, what if they don't? We aren't any different from who we've always been, but we will be viewed differently from that moment on.

We lose friends. We lose family. The hurt of this can be overwhelming. Many gays and lesbians turn to alcohol or drugs to ease the hurt and all those feelings. Why are we put down and viewed differently just because we love someone of the same sex? It wasn't even a choice for us. It just is. It's who we are. Why is there anything wrong with that?

Rejection of any sort is hard. No one likes it. And, then, when you can't help but be who you are, you're rejected. Does my loving another woman really have any impact on you and your life? Why should it be any different than the impact any man and woman have on anyone else when they are in a healthy, loving relationship?

Love is love. If we had more love, it could only make this world a better place. It's sad that people can't always openly express to society who they love. It's even more sad when people are beaten or even killed because of who they want to love. Would you do or say something about yourself knowing that that is a possibility? How scary is that? How scared would you be knowing that you could be hated, beaten or killed for being yourself?

I hope I never have to face such physical hatred with my being so vocal about who I am (I've already dealt with the emotional hurt). I'm going to continue to speak out and write about it though until everyone who wants to be out, can be out. It's a risk; but this is who I am. It's how I was born. I'm just me. And, I always will be me. No matter who I love.

Unexpectations...a bit of my story

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Music for Vegetarians, Music for Beauty, Music for Life

Sometimes weird things pop into my head. When I opened the fridge and saw some fresh beets looking back at me, the song, "We've got the beets, we've got the beets" popped into my head. That's the vegetarian version of the 80s Go-Go's song that I used to love and play while in a girl band.

Whether it's a made-up song in my head or a real song, music is so important to me. I couldn't imagine a day without music in my life. I am grateful to the universe for also giving me the gift to hear that music.

Music is like a dear friend. You know that friend that you can go to and literally lean on when you're together? That friend who you can share anything with? That friend who you pick up with right where you left off no matter how much time has passed? That's how music feels to me.

I wake up every day to the song, "Heaven" sung by Brandi Carlile. To me, it's such a beautiful song. It's also a song of hope. Why would I not want to start my day with hope? And beauty? (I couldn't even imagine how my day would go if I woke up to a blaring alarm...)

Music has invoked many feelings in me. In yoga last week, Sarah McLachlan's acoustic version of "Answer" made me cry. It was playing softly in the background while we were in half pigeon. Could have been the hip opening that released the flood of tears, but I believe it was also the music that had me thinking.

I've used music to help with the natural delivery of my youngest child. Yo-Yo Ma playing Bach on his cello took away all pain of a very difficult delivery. I've even used the same CD (my favorite is the 1st in the set of the 2) to have dental work done without novocaine. Even where the dentist repeatedly and strongly suggested I use something to help me through. I didn't need anything more than the music.

I do have my favorite music that will circulate in the 5 slots of my CD player at home before I try out another favorite 5. Or, the one slot in my car. They have to fit my mood, though, too. And, that's the good thing about music...there are so many choices and styles and options. I can always find some type of music that speaks to me and is a reflection of how I feel (or how I want to feel). Thank you to all the musicians and singers who make that music. You make my world a better place.


Monday, May 9, 2011

Famous for a Difference

I'm feeling like I need to clarify on my earlier post. We began talking today at work about doing things and becoming famous. One of my coworkers said she had fame in her 40s with her art; but it was too much. She prefers the simpler life of now.

I know that I said I wanted to be famous. But, I don't want to be famous for famous-sake. I want to be known so that I can be a role-model or set an example or help other women.

When I started writing my novel and I figured out that I was gay in the process, I knew back then that I wanted to make a difference. And that I could make a difference. It's scary going through what I went through. So many thoughts go through your head. You see your life and the world as you know it torn apart. Your day-to-day life with a husband and kids just totally changes. That ease of daily routine will no longer be the same. You feel like you're alone when you have those feelings. The "Oh my god, I can't be gay, can I?" thoughts and feelings. "I'm a married woman. How can this happen to me? What will my life be like if I admit to the world that I'm a lesbian? Do I have to tell anyone? How will it change my world?" And on and on...

Now, my book isn't just geared to women contemplating coming out. It's a story for women. It's a story about love and loss and hope and more love. If my desire to be famous has any impact, be it that more women hear of my story. Then, I hope they know that they can get through situations that seem hopeless. Situations that seem totally devastating like the loss of a child. Situations where you aren't sure if you even want to live any more. Trust me, I've been there myself. I explain some of those feelings in my book, Unexpectations. But, if I can instill hope and the desire to live in even just one person; to show someone that there is a happy at then end, then I will feel like I have made a difference in this world and that being famous isn't so bad.

Dreaming with a Hairbrush Microphone

Every morning (or should I say middle of the night?) between 2:30 and 3:30 am-ish, a quote gets delivered via email to my phone. I always look forward to reading each day's positive message that I signed up to receive from Sometimes I read them in the middle of the night if I wake up and it's one of those nights. Other times, they have to wait until a more normal wake up time (at least for my normal).

A few days ago, one of these delivered messages struck a strong chord with me. It said:

Those that are succeeding and are thrilled and joyful
in the unfolding will often tell you
"I've dreamed this since I was little. I imagined it. I pretended it,
I used to practice with the hairbrush pretending it was a microphone."
Purity is the alignment of energy. Doesn't matter what
anybody else thinks about anything. It only matters
what you think about it.
- Abraham

For me, being a writer (or more especially a published author) is what I've dreamed about since I was little. I distinctly remember one time sitting in my room and leaning against the frame of my closet (hmm...imagine that...). I was half in, half out, since I also had a little bookshelf with my writing things and treasures on it inside that closet. I was writing a story in a spiral bound notebook. I couldn't tell you what that story was even about. But, I sat there writing and thinking of how someday I would be published. I'd be a famous author, I also thought. Because when you're a kid, there are no limits.

I'm sure my stories have changed so much since then. Many of those stories from then couldn't be published because they were forced in what I wrote. I didn't have the life experiences that I have today to base my stories on. But, what was important, was that I was writing. I wrote a lot. And, I enjoyed it immensely.

So now, as the quote said, I'm succeeding and thrilled and joyful at the unfolding of my dream. I think positive, joyful thoughts about the success of my book (still have to have that dream of being famous). The unfolding of my dream makes me constantly smile. I'm living my dream with my hairbrush microphone. And, once again, I'm writing more and more. And, I'm still enjoying it immensely. What are you doing with your hairbrush microphone?

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Comfort of Real Books

When I feel stressed at night, I lay in bed and just look beside me. A wall of books is in my room. They're there for now because of a lack of space in my cute little home. But, you know, I like them there.

Books on feng shui will tell you not to have books lined up in your bedroom. They say you want a minimalist approach to keep your life clear and stress-free. That probably works fine for some people, but not for me. My books are comforting to me and my mind. I don't see a mish-mash of colors or sizes (believe me, with my interior design background, my eye is usually drawn to that). I see feelings and memories.

Memories of where I was when I got each book or who gave it to me or of something I enjoyed reading in it. Or, how I was feeling at that time in my life. Many of my books are reference books of sorts. Go-to books where I can look things up. Maybe it's just the knowledge of having information so close at hand that is also comforting to me?

Yes, looking things up on the internet via our computers and phones is handy but nothing beats the feel of a book in your hands. Glossy or textured paper and covers. The different sizes and physical weight of the book. Even the smell invokes sensations within us. At least within me.

When I opted to self-publish my book, I decided to not only do it in e-format (like was suggested by published fellow authors. Some suggesting only doing an e-book for cost purposes), but to also have it printed on real paper. I know I'm still a few months off before I can hold my novel in my hands in that actual book format that I so love. But, knowing that perhaps it will someday be added to the shelves of others to bring comfort to them, is comforting to me.