#metoo Warning: this may offend you.

#metoo

#metoo may seem like a tag line, annoyance, or a trend that has over stayed it’s welcome.

A female friend said to me a few months ago: “I think this #metoo thing has gotten out of hand!”

I disagree.

It has caused the world at large to finally hear to women.

I don’t know a single woman who hasn’t been assaulted, abused, harassed, or raped at the hands of men.

The first time it happened to me: I was 14 and the father of a child my Mother baby sat told me on numerous occasions about how beautiful I was. He would sit beside me on the floor while I was playing with his son and my little brother. He did this  while the of the other adults were there to pick up their children. He would sit close to me, smelling like stale cigarettes. My skin would crawl. Something about it made me feel dirty and ashamed. I have never told anyone about it until right now.

The second time it happened it happened to me: I was 14 or 15. My family and I were really good friends with the young couple and their precious little girl who lived across the street.  The husband, Mike and I would talk about science fiction and horror movies sitting on the tailgate of his truck drinking sodas. I would tell him about the problems I had at school and he would tell me about hunting with his dad as a child. I saw him as a big brother or Dad (My father died when I was 10 & my brother was 6 months old).  I ate dinner with his family. I baby sat his daughter. My mother adored Mike, his wife, and his daughter. Mike’s wife had a very complicated pregnancy with their second child.  One summer night she had to be transported via ambulance to the hospital. I rode with Mike behind the siren and flashing lights.

When we arrived, he was crying and told me he was scared. I hugged him.  He then proceeded to violently grab me and force me against the passenger side door. I was completely terrified! I screamed “Stop Mike! No!” I remember his breath smelling of stale booze and the way his rough hand felt touching my still developing breast. He was really strong! I pushed, and begged him to stop. He didn’t. But I finally managed to open the passenger door and fall out of the truck, on to the pavement. I slammed the door and went as fast as I could into the emergency room while he begged me not to tell anyone. Luckily, my friend and her boyfriend were already there waiting for us and I rode home with them. I told my friend and her boyfriend about it. My friend said: “He’s been drink’n as if that explained everything. I never set foot in Mike’s yard or his home ever again.

I was raped when I was 18. I was an active alcoholic at the time. I was passed out drunk. I woke up to my boyfriend whom I lived with raping me. I could hear the other people partying in our living room. I called out for help. He said: “Shut up no one can hear you.” I was confused about what happened. When I confronted him the next day he laughed at me and said he did it all of the time when I was passed out. He said it wasn’t rape because he was my boyfriend. I told a woman that I didn’t know very well what happened to gage her reaction. I told her it had happened to a “friend” of mine I remember her saying that it wasn’t rape because he was my “friend’s” boyfriend.  She said my “friend” had been taken advantage of because she had been passed out. I didn’t talk about it again. I figured it was my fault because I was drunk. Years later, I told a therapist about what had happened and she told me I had defiantly been raped.

I have been groped, cat called at, or had inappropriate comments made to me at almost every job I have ever had.

REALLY.

At one job right out of college, I reported my boss leaning over my desk to stare at my boobs to the human resources person. She told me to ignore him that he did it to everybody. I then called the department of labor and told them what happened. They told me there was nothing they could do unless he touched me.

The last time I was harassed at a job I stood up for myself. I told the perpetrator that it was harassment, it was inappropriate and that I wanted no part of it. I told him “Leave me alone. I won’t say it twice.” He complied.

No, I didn’t report it to human resources. At that point, experience had taught me that I would be ignored.

I have over heard friends and co-workers talking about the recent Bill Cosby verdict.

I have over heard both men and women saying: “I don’t believe that!” Why would these women wait thirty years?” “They all want money!” “I don’t believe he did everything they’re saying he did but I believe he did something.” “How can you even know what happened to you that long ago!” “It’s so sad everybody loves him!”

What I find the most interesting is this: NOT ONCE DID I OVER HEAR ANYONE,MAN OR WOMAN SPEAK ANY WORDS OF CONCERN ABOUT THE VICTIMS.

When the truth about the sexual abuse of male children in the Catholic church came out, not once did I hear anyone remark that the men who came forward waited too long to tell truth about what happened to them.

And everyone was talking about the victims.

Men made allegations of sexual harassment and assault against Kevin Spacy and he was fired from his hit Netflix show immediately.

Sixty women accused Cosby of drugging and raping them before he was brought to trial.

The reality is that society listens to men and not to women.

Even other women don’t believe other women when they come forward after they have been sexually assaulted.

Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court proves that.

One thing I can tell you is this: Christine Blasey Ford isn’t a liar. YOU DO NOT FORGET BEING SEXUALLY ASSAULTED. IT BURNS ITSELF INTO YOUR BEING. IT STAYS WITH YOU FOR LIFE. And you remember who did it. 

Women: stop pandering to men to make living in their world ok. Create your own world. Create a world in which you speak your truth and believe your sisters when they speak theirs.

Men: let women have this moment in time. Step aside. It is our time. Let us have this. 

 

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2018 INTENTIONS

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2017 was incredibly exciting, fun, and a bit terrifying.

Last year I:

  • Spent a lot of time I praying Jo wouldn’t die. She almost died in my arms once. And she spent the entire month of March into the first week of April in the hospital.
  • Moved to Richmond to live with my soul mate! This meant not seeing my Mom every day as well as leaving my family and friends. However, my Mother, family and friends could not be happier for me and I couldn’t be happier period. I travel the short distance home frequently.
  • Started a new job and shut down the business I had owned and operated for a 8 years
  • Saw PJ Harvey in concert for the third time. Thanks Amy!
  • Traveled a lot with Jo. Our trips included Williamsburg, York Town, the Eastern Shore, and New York City!
  • GOT ENGAGED (!) at the huge Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center, and met Cyndi Lauper on the trip to New York City! It was the most incredible vacation of my life!
  • Experienced the sting of homophobia and acceptance all within the same holiday season. Jo’s family disowned her because she and I posted pictures of us getting engaged on Facebook. They have known she is a lesbian for 38+ years. This meant no phone calls, texts or invites from her family on Christmas. To say she was devastated by their reaction to our joy is an understatement. However, my family has only known I am gay for a year and a half. They completely embraced Jo with open arms. My amazing Mother told her she has a new family now. To receive complete acceptance from my family is the greatest of many blessings I have been given. I kept my true sexual identity hidden for decades because I was afraid of losing my family. Instead, what I was really doing was denying them the opportunity to accept me.
  • I forgot who I really am. I got angry, judged those who are sick and bashed them. I did this constantly with our current president and those who hurt the ones I love. I got righteously pissed off! I posted negative things on social media and spit out hate plenty. I forgot that I am a spiritual being, a Buddhist, and a bringer of peace.
  • I participated in some nonreciprocal friendships. I went above and beyond, reached out, ran errands, rescued, and sacrificed my time and energy for people who didn’t care about me really. Either because they are sick or because I made a bigger deal out of our friendship than they did. These people reached out a little or did me a small kindness just so I would stay on the “back burner” in case they needed me.

 

 

 

 

 

MY INTENTIONS 2018:

  • Allow my deities Guanyin and Green Tara to take the lead in all I do, to stay out of their way and allow life to unfold.
  • Trust that everything that happens or is happening is for my good.
  • Be in and apart of the flow of life and allow the process to be as it is without trying to change it.
  • Raise my voice in irritation less.
  • Act, speak, and think positively even when I don’t feel like it and even when it is difficult.
  • Allow others to have their own experience without interfering.
  • Only participate in friendships with people who return my calls, texts, and efforts to stay connected, who want to see me and have a genuine interest in who I am and not what I can give them.
  • Living in the present moment instead of fearing the future.
  • Look at my phone less and engage with people.
  • Planning my wedding and honeymoon!
  • Traveling a lot!
  • Celebrate my joy with Jo every day!
  • Be a good friend, daughter, sister, aunt, cousin and partner
  • Be a force of love, compassion, and peace even when I don’t feel like it and even when it is difficult.

I wish for ALL of you to experience love, joy, and serenity this year! Happy 2018!

 

Who We Really Are

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While the terrorist/white supremacist attacks were taking place in my home town of Charlottesville, VA yesterday  I was enjoying a peaceful day in Richmond, VA of homemade waffles and cleaning the apartment with my girlfriend.

As the news of what was happening in Charlottesville blew up Facebook and my phone with notifications from NPR news, I was devastated to say the least. I cried then and I have cried today. I cannot imagine what Heather Heyer’s loved ones are experiencing right now. And I am sure that everyone who was injured, beaten or who witnessed what happened now has some form of PTSD to deal with.

I cannot speak a lot about what happened Saturday August 12th because I wasn’t there. I will never really know what it was like. And honestly, what can I say about bigoted terrorist that hasn’t already been said?

However, I am certain of a few things:

  1. My family and friends in Charlottesville and Ruckersville, where I lived for the past 16 years before relocating to Richmond, are the most loving and accepting people that I have ever known.
  2. Yes this was a terrorist attack. People do not beat up or kill other people when they are exercising their right as an American to protest.
  3. THIS ATTACK HAPPENED BECAUSE OF OUTSIDERS THAT HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH CHARLOTTESVILLE OR LOCAL POLITICS. Their terrorist actions do not reflect what is in the hearts of any of my loved ones or Charlottesville as a whole.

This is not who we are. It never was.

I have one more thing I would like to share with you.

I called my Mom to make sure she didn’t venture into Charlottesville on an errand yesterday. After these violent attacks that were based on hate occurred, I received the most beautiful gift from my Mother. During our conversation, she said: “You seem so happy and I really like Jo Ann. You’re doing so good something about it just seems so, right.” My Mother, who just found out I’m gay after knowing me my entire life, gave me the gift of acceptance.

This gives me hope. And it proves to me that love will always win.

Love is who we really are.  

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Lesbian Overnight

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My Mother recently prompted my ex-boyfriend to collect somethings that he had stored in and around her shed via certified mail from the sheriff’s office. He had left these things on her property after he and I broke up 16 months ago. She and I made repeated attempts to have him remove them.

He still felt that my Mother had done him a great wrong.

Which I guess is what prompted him to yell at my Mother: “About you’re daughter, NO ONE BECOMES A LESBIAN OVERNIGHT!

My Mother told him to go to hell and went back into her house. ( Yes she is pretty awesome!)

He may be sick & narrow minded but he is right about one thing: I did not become a lesbian overnight.

It took decades for me to be who I really am.

I identified as bisexual beginning at age 17.

I wasn’t sure I could be gay because I had been with boys.

The first time I had sex it was with a boy.

I always chose men because they chose me.

I never considered a single man that I was with until he paid attention to me. I never looked at a man and felt the things that I felt (and feel) when I looked at a woman.

I went through puberty in the age of day time talk shows in the 80’s. On several of these shows I often heard that women just didn’t feel the same level of sexual desire that men do. I heard women who were supposed to be experts saying that women were attracted to men after getting to know them. And these same so called experts said that women often needed cuddling more than sexual fulfillment.

I also heard “experts” saying on these talk shows that same sex attraction was very common in teenage girls but that they usually out grew it when they became adults.

As a young girl I thought that women just didn’t feel the same level of attraction that men did.

And I thought that it was normal for me to feel attracted to and develop deep emotional attachments to my female friends.

I struggled in relationships with the opposite sex for a multitude of reasons.

Among the reasons that I struggled was the fact that I sometimes wondered if I needed to end the relationship because I was actually a lesbian.

But I would talk myself out of it. I would “write off” my thoughts. I would tell myself I was creating a problem that wasn’t there. I was creating struggle when everything was going well.

I told myself it was normal to only have fantasies about women. I figured it was because I had a man. If I were with a woman then I would have fantasies about men right?

I always felt like I was hiding. I always felt like something was missing. I felt like something was wrong but I couldn’t ever figure out what that something was.

Iyanla Vanzant Authentic Self quote

When I am my true self, I allow others to truly love me

When I fell in love with my girlfriend a million puzzle pieces fell into place.

I knew who I was and what had been missing.

A million realizations fired off in my brain and in my heart.

It took me 30+ years to meet her and be my authentic self.

My ex-boyfriend was right: I didn’t become a lesbian overnight. I always was. It just took a very long time for me to live my truth.

 

To Damn Busy!

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My love is in the hospital again with pneumonia. She has officially been there for one week today.

She will get better.

In the week that she has been in the hospital none of her family has come to visit her.

One of her good friends is the only person to visit her besides me.

This has caused me to think about busyness.

Allow me to explain.

When we are busy we don’t have to stop and look at life. We don’t have to wonder if we are happy or if our relationships are good. We’re just to damn busy to think about it!

When we are busy, we gain our worth from how much we get done in a day (this is me in a nut shell by the way). And when we do finally have a day off or a vacation we can say we deserve it because of how busy we have been!

The cycle goes on and on. We wear ourselves out, our relationships grow weaker, and we stop showing up for people when they need us even when they are sick and in the hospital.

I am completely certain of one thing: THE RELATONSHIPS THAT WE HAVE WITH OUR LOVED ONES ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT PART OF THIS LIFE.

When we finally take the long dirt nap, the only thing that we will leave this world with is the love we created while we were here.

Showing up for someone means more than a thousand tasks completed in a day, a new car, or a promotion.

Today, I will go spend as much time as I can with my love.

I can’t make her well. But I can show up for her.

Whats Out &Whats In for 2017: The Year of Fruition

I DEEM 2017 THE YEAR OF FRUITION

2017

I deemed 2016 as The Year of Transition. 

I had no idea how right I was!

This year I: Came out as bisexual, met the love of my life (I honestly had no idea she would be so amazing!), realized that I am actually a lesbian and have always been and that that is a big reason my relationships with men never worked, let go of toxic people, adopted two adult daughters (they are such a blessing!), introduced my girlfriend to my Mom(!), changed sponsors twice, was privileged to watch my dear friend make progress with her health challenge, and started an internship that I enjoy.

And I remained open as I said I would last year. I let go of expectations as best as I could. And I faced my fear.

The results are obvious:

  • I found deep, profound, true love. Unconditional adoring, hot, connected at the soul level love! And my Mother is happy for me! And my other family members and friends are happy for me! I denied my true self for decades because I was afraid of rejection. When I decided to risk facing that fear what I found was acceptance.
  • I became a second Mother to two adult daughters. I never thought that I would be a Mother in at all because I thought it had to happen in a traditional way. But I let go of that expectation and found profound healing and a great blessing.
  • After years of struggle, I finally let intuition guide me and made some hard decisions that needed to be made. I was afraid of hurting some people’s feelings. However, what happened was I ended up having great peace of mind and guidance.

So, once again my plan for the New Year is to REMAIN OPEN. No expectations.

What’s Out and what’s In for 2017:

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OUT

Tradition

Anger

Frustration

Speaking negatively

Taking on more than I can handle

Not asking for help

Eating bad food

Neglecting myself

IN

Taking care of myself

Saying no when I need to

Speaking positively

Boldness

Being authentic in all things

Getting more sleep

Peace

Spending a lot of time with the people I love

Making time to write

Travel

Eating well

I get that the current landscape of our world is uncertain going into 2017. But I believe life is what we make it. Remember: We are all in this together. This year will be as great as we choose for it to be!

 

WE ABSOULUTLY NEED TO KEEP BEING WHO WE ARE

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Bear with me for a moment if you will.

I swear this isn’t a political rant.

Nor is it a plea for the tolerance of hate.

I was completely devastated, and terrified by the results of the 2016 presidential election.

The current administration stands against anyone who is NOT : white, male, Christian.

I fall into a few minority groups:

Lesbian, woman, Buddhist.

I never thought hate would make its way into the White House in such a blatant way.

I’m not going to tell you that I think it will get better or that we should tolerate hatred.

However, I will tell you this: WE ABSOULUTLY NEED TO KEEP BEING WHO WE ARE.

I have to live my life based on spiritual principles. If I don’t I won’t be able to live. It’s easy for me to live my life from these principles when the rest of the world is acting in a peaceful and loving manner.

Ah, but this is where the proverbial “rubber meets the road”. Now I get to actually practice these principles in the face of hate.

That means that I have to keep showing up for life as the best person I can be regardless of what is happening in the world. I have to be kind and loving even when it is very, very difficult to do so.

May I propose this to those of you who were kind enough to read this:

Show up for life as a force of peace.

Be kind.

And above all, let the people in your life know what it is you value about them as individuals.

I say this because I can tell you from experience that some of us “minorities” may be feeling a little unsure right now. Letting someone know what it is you value about them can really let them know that they are valued as a person and not just summed up into a category.

I was blessed to have someone do this for me recently. It changed my point of view.

If you see an injustice taking place before your eyes, remember the victim. It is human nature to go after the aggressor. However, it is the victim that really needs comfort.

Now more than ever it is vital to go out of your way to be kind, show love, and do your best.

We are all in this together. Remember that above ALL ELSE.