Tell Your Truth

According to the New York Times:

“Christian conservatives, for more than two decades a pivotal force in American politics, are grappling with Election Day results that repudiated their influence and suggested that the cultural tide — especially on gay issues — has shifted against them.

“They are reeling not only from the loss of the presidency, but from what many of them see as a rejection of their agenda. They lost fights against same-sex marriage in all four states where it was on the ballot…”

Why do you suppose that is? I think it’s because by now, almost everyone in the US knows someone who is openly gay, and knows that this person is a ‘normal’ person in all respects, whose only difference is that he or she is attracted to members of the same sex, instead of the other sex.

Why do you suppose everyone now knows someone who is gay?

It’s because a generation ago, gay men began to organize because of AIDS, began to speak out, began a ‘gay pride’ movement. When all those gay men, and eventually lesbians, began to come out of the closet, eventually, almost everyone realized they knew someone who was homosexual. And each person realized that his friend, cousin, colleague, brother, sister, son, daughter, niece, nephew, uncle or aunt who came out of the closet was still the person he or she had always been. That made homosexuality, well, normal.

Why would you want your friends and relatives to have fewer rights than you do? You wouldn’t.

This is the power of telling your truth. When you stand up and tell your truth, it empowers someone else to do the same. Eventually, like tiny streams come together to make a river that changes a landscape, all of you come together to change the consciousness of a country (and eventually the world). 

It’s not just true for homosexuality, either. It’s true for those who are fighting to legalize marijuana (and by the way, 24 years ago, an FBI agent told me that “if we had to exclude anyone who’d ever smoked marijuana from government, we wouldn’t have a government”). It’s true for people like me who openly talked about psychic abilities before it was popular. It’s true today for people who are talking about having positive contact with extra-terrestrial beings. It’s true for the insiders who are leaking political, financial, military and scientific truths, which the ‘powers that were’ are trying to hide from We the People.

So whatever your truth is, say it loudly – and proudly (as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone else — I am not standing up for child molesters, etc. here).

The Heart Grows Smarter – NYTimes.com

The strong effect of relationships on longevity:

The Heart Grows Smarter – NYTimes.com

Does this really need to be said?

This is going to sound like a shaggy dog story, but bear with me – there is a point.

A friend of mine, Heather,  told me the following story:

“I’m a small time landlord, and recently rented one of my apartments to a single mom, a nice lady with two young girls. The woman was getting out of what sounded like an abusive marriage, and in a real hurry to sign a lease before she left the country briefly to care for her ailing grandmother. She was REALLY not looking forward to this — she grew up here, didn’t know her grandmother all that well, and hates being in Fiji, her grandmother’s country.  She was the best family member to go, though, because she makes her living caring for the elderly.

“She signed a 1 year lease, gave me a deposit, and we made plans for her to move in just after the first of the month. This would give me a couple of days to clean up the place in case the last tenant didn’t do a great job.

“Four days before she was supposed to move in, she called from Fiji, and reached me on my cell phone. The number was blocked. I was in the car on the way to a MeetUp, but my friend, Jack, was driving, so I took the call. My tenant said, “My grandmother died, and I’m stuck here healing with cultural issues.” Wow! I was shocked, and said I was sorry. Then she said, “I don’t know if I’ll be back in 2 weeks or 2 months. Can I get out of the lease? What do I do?”

“I told her calmly, but firmly, that she had signed a lease, and I was not about to let her out of it. That she was responsible for the $10,000 amount of the lease. That the law is that I’m required to make reasonable efforts to find another tenant, but that she is responsible for any deficiency. That is, if it’s vacant for a month, she owes me a month’s rent. And that I’ll take her to small claims court to collect whatever she owes me, as soon as I know the amount of my damages.”

“She said she understood, and would call me back in a few days to let me know if she could borrow enough money from a family member to keep the lease. I said I understood, and would look forward to her next call. Of course, she never called back.

“That was bad enough. Then I heard through a mutual friend that Jack was telling people that I dealt with this all wrong. That I should have just expressed my condolences and put off a serious discussion for another time. Never mind that he didn’t know the situation, that he didn’t hear her side of the conversation, that he didn’t know the phone number was blocked, so I had no way to reach her, that he’s never been a landlord, that he didn’t know the law, and that I really need the money.

“So now, I’m not only out a tenant, but my reputation is being ruined by an ignorant jerk, who apparently knows better than I do what to do in my situation — and is happy to tell anyone who will listen. And who is so cowardly as to not tell me this to my face. By the way, I tried to approach him to talk about it, but he has excuse after excuse as to why he ‘can’t’ get together. What can I do?”

If he won’t meet with you, there’s not a lot you can do, except to realize that there are ignorant, cowardly jerks everywhere, and to let it roll off your back. You did the best you could. As my grandmother would have said, “Don’t dignify that with an answer.” Focus your attention on more positive things — and let this go.

I think the lesson here is more about not being in Jack’s position. How do you avoid that? In the words of Craig Ferguson (yes, the guy from the Late Late Show — he’s a very perceptive guy, not just a funny one), ask yourself these three questions:

  1. Does this need to be said?
  2. Does this need to be said by me?
  3. Does this need to be said by me now?

And if the answer to any of those questions is “no”,  keep your mouth shut.

How to keep showing up!

In the fall of my second year in business school, my friend, Candy, who’d just completed a summer job and been offered a full time post by that company for after graduation, had to go to a company recruiting cocktail party on top of studying for mid-term exams. Trying to put myself in her shoes, I sympathized with her time crunch, as well as the stress I thought this would bring (or it would have brought for me).

Candy looked at me with a wry smile, and laughed softly, “Oh, no, this isn’t stressful! All I have to do is show up. I’m good at showing up!” She continued, “I’ll get brownie points for showing up. That’s  really all I have to do —  show up and say ‘hi’ to a few people I know, so that they know I’m there, as part of the team. I don’t have to impress anyone — they’ve already offered me the job. I don’t even have to talk to the recruiters much; they’re more interested in prospects they don’t know.”

This idea that sometimes, all you have to do is show up, stuck with me. Or as Woody Allen said, “Eighty percent of success is showing up.”

I’m reminded to mention this now, because I personally have a lot to show up for at the moment. In fact, it seems never ending — the weekly radio show, the clients, my other businesses which seem to constantly need something, let alone friends and family. (Did I mention taking the barest of acquaintances in for surgery last week because he had no one else?)

I’m actually really good at showing up. I know not everyone is, though, and I think that’s mostly caused by lack of motivation. So how do you maintain your motivation?

  • Keep reminding yourself of the big picture — when you see how a tiny action can really help with the big goals of your life, you’ll keep on showing up for the little stuff.
  • Remember that “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step“, as Lao-Tzu said. Yes, you have to take a lot of those single steps, but only one is the first one, and the ‘showing up’ ones are pretty easy.
  • Ask yourself, “How much effort is this really? How can I systematize this so that I can do it with almost no effort?” For example, if you’re a coffee drinker, you have surely devised a system to make coffee so efficiently that you barely notice making it any more. You can do that with many things in life.
  • Try to find the fun — or something positive — in showing up.

Last week, I had a computer nightmare (believe me, you don’t want to know the details!). Showing up to deal with it sucked. But the big picture is that I need that computer to run my businesses, and to do the radio show. The first step was to try to do the updates I needed by myself, using all the online help available in forums. When that wasn’t enough, I called Apple for help. When that wasn’t enough, the online help desk made me an appointment at the local Apple Store for help. When they couldn’t solve my problem, they sent me to an outside company who is one of Apple’s premium service sites.

There, I met the owner, who is not only the most competent Mac person I’ve ever met (he almost solved my problem completely, and told me how to do the rest myself), but also turned out to be interested in a lot of things I’m interested in that have nothing to do with computers — star visitors, the unfairness of our current economic system, angels, the effects of vibrations, etc. We had a fascinating conversation that went on long past the completion of my computer issues. Meeting this man turned out to be the ‘something positive‘ in showing up.

What I learned from spring fever

Thursday, July 20, 2006

I don’t know about you, but there is always a week in spring where I just don’t want to do anything, except sit around and enjoy the weather. I want to be out in it to enjoy it, and the rest of the time, I mostly want to sleep. Perhaps read a bit, but mostly just drift in and out of waking consciousness… into meditation… into sleep… back to meditation…. You get the picture.

This is that week. It’s amazing I’m even managing to write this email.

Anyway, today I was lying about in the middle of the afternoon, feeling guilty. Why was I feeling guilty? I mean, there wasn’t anything I had to do that wasn’t getting done. Yes, of course, there’s always more I could do when I’m not with clients, between promotion and bookkeeping, but no one was going to be hurt if I didn’t do it then. So what was that guilt?

I think guilt happens when a part of you accepts someone else’s rules as your own. You know, all those “shoulds”, “oughts” and “musts”. As in, “you should be working”, which is definitely family programming for me. Obviously if all of you bought into the rule, you’d be working, instead of feeling guilty! So part of you is buying in and part of you isn’t. The part of you that isn’t buying in is obviously stronger at that point. And the positive intention of the guilt is to remind you of the rule, or maybe to tie you to the person who gave you the rule. Although in general I agree with the “you should be working” rule, I don’t agree that it has to be in force 24/7, and especially not on a perfect afternoon in May, not when I work for myself. And though the rule is my Dad’s and I do like that it connects me to him, hey, not today!

So the next time you feel guilty, ask yourself these questions:

  • What am I feeling guilty about?
  • What am I doing or not doing that is triggering the guilt?
  • What’s the rule I’m violating? Try to formulate it with a “should”, “must” or “ought”.
  • Whose rule is that, anyway?
  • Do I agree with the rule, or am I just using it to stay connected in some way to that person?
  • Even if I agree with the rule, does the rule apply now?
  • If the answer to either of the last 2 questions is no, then let go of the guilt and enjoy what you’re choosing instead!


PS – I went back to sleep for another hour, guilt-free! 🙂