Author Archive for Laura – Page 2

Being Here Now

By Guest Blogger, Carolyn Cook.

I’m risking making space in my life for the present.

I was inspired by Debbie Kerr’s recent post about cleaning out her closet. I have a lot of stuff in my house right now. Much of it came from the homes of my mother and mother-in-law. Their extra belongings filled our extra space, as we eased their journeys into assisted living.

It’s time to begin digging out from under the clutter we accumulated.

My husband is working on an estate sale for his mom, and I’m slowly taking inventory of my own clutter, before I even deal with my mother’s.

Recently I gave some lovely pieces of clothing to a theatre costume shop. The gift included two gorgeous pairs of shoes that had been my grandmother’s, that I had worn occasionally and really loved. There was also a nice business suit that was just a bit too small for me. (It had been too small even when I bought it. Wishful thinking made me believe I’d lose five pounds.) All of it was beautiful, and all of it represented a part of my life that I had held onto longer than I needed to.

As I let go of those clothes, I heard myself telling the costumers that I hoped they’d be useful in a play, because they didn’t belong in my life. They were reminders of who I’m not anymore, and I’ve decided to be who I am now.

Let somebody else be who I used to be.

I realized that I was only able to let go of those things because I’ve started shifting my thinking, very slowly, toward an appreciation of the present.  The words “be here now” are the best advice I know of, as I seek to live peacefully within my changing emotional landscape.  I have so much to be grateful for, when I stop and pay attention to it all.

Letting the past be the past, and not burdening the future with my worries:  those are my risks for today.

This post first appeared on True Voices’ RiskADay blog, a project, which has now concluded.

 is a sometimes peaceful, sometimes frazzled individual who works to raise a daughter, build a marriage, and explore the human condition through theatre, art, music, history, literature, and relationship. You can now read about her life and insights at her own blog here.

What To Do When Harm Has Been Done?

I came across a beautiful story this week. I shared it with my current Daring Way™ group, and I just had to share with you, too, my faithful True Voices Blog readers.

It’s short, yet it really made me think. Maybe you’ll experience something similar. Enjoy. (FYI: I haven’t neutralized the gender-specific pronouns, but I’m sure you’ll see that it could apply to either gender.)

The person who shared it with me got it from Films For Action (www.FilmsForAction.org), but beyond that, I don’t know the origin.

There’s an African tribe in which, when someone does something harmful, that person is taken to the center of the village where the whole tribe comes and surrounds him.

For two days, they will say to the man all the good things that he has done.

The tribe believes that each human being comes into the world as good, that each one of us desires only safety, love, peace, and happiness.

But sometimes, in the pursuit of these things, people make mistakes.

The community sees those mistakes as a cry for help.

They unite then to lift him, to reconnect him with his true nature, to remind him who he really is, until he fully remembers the truth of which he had been temporarily disconnected: “I am good.”

And to that I say, “Amen.”

Make a Difference Day!

Hey! I’m posting this on October 24th, in the hope that you’ll read this post by October 25th, just in time to catch the wave of…

Make a Difference Day!

I know that a lot of these “special” days are often just for fun, but this one’s for real.  Surprisingly, Make a Difference Day has been around for over 20 years. It was started by USA Weekend along with Points of Light. It’s the nation’s largest day of service, and it always falls on the fourth Saturday of the October.

I wonder if that has something to do with the weather. But I digress!

It’s kind of sad that we need a day named Make a Difference Day to get us out there helping each other en masse. But what’s even sadder is that most of us, myself included until very recently, don’t even know about it!

So that’s my mission with this blog post. No philosophizing, no life story, no spiritual concept to ponder, although I could certainly do any of those here. Nope! Just a public service announcement about this truly special day, an opportunity to do something that improves the life of a neighbor – a neighbor you know or one you just haven’t met yet.

Not sure what to do?

Just go to the Make a Difference Day website, and you can find something fun and close to home. No matter where you live, I feel pretty sure that there’s some project you can join in on. Just go to USA Weekend’s website, or the Points of Light website and do a quick search.

Been wanting to get a project started? Gather some people in your community, and get it going!

I’ll be spending most of my day driving to and then performing a wedding, so I won’t be able to do one of the official Make a Difference Day projects here in the Atlanta area. But I’m making a commitment to you right here and now, that I’ll do my darnedest to make a difference everywhere I go. For one, I certainly hope I make a difference for the couple I’m marrying, but I’m getting paid for that, so I can’t count it as a volunteer project. But, I could pay for the coffee of the person behind me in line. I could offer my neighbor who doesn’t drive a lift to the grocery store and back. And/or I could simply give a smile to all those whose paths I cross.

So, regardless of your plans for Saturday, October 25th, I hope you’ll join in. If you have children and you live in the Atlanta area, there’s a group just for you. It’s called Pebble Tossers (I love that name), and you can check it out here. If you’re sans kids, just check out main website. And I think I read that they even have a Facebook page!

Who knows?

Maybe doing these things, big or small, will feel so good to us, we’ll start making a difference for our neighbors (two-legged and four-legged) on other days, too. 🙂

And please, do share this post widely so we can also spread the word! My Sun Deck Kwan Yin would greatly appreciate your pitching in. Thank you from both of us.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead

 

Risk. Regret. Realism.

By Guest Blogger, Andrea Lea-Kraus.

risk

1: Possibility of loss or injury : peril
2: The chance that an investment (as a stock or commodity) will lose value

regret:
1 a : To mourn the loss or death of
1 b : To miss very much
2 : To be very sorry for

realism:
1 : Concern for fact or reality and rejection of the impractical and visionary

Sometimes… when the concept-mosquitoes are swarming around the muggy, boggy swamp of my mind… 

I have to dip into the clear, cool, as-yet-untainted (by that sticky, humid, south Georgia-in-July, bulldog-with-a-bone mind), Merriam-Webster-well take on what words mean. Take it back to the basics. Detach a little. Relax the jaw.

Somehow, grabbing onto a definition helps things feel less personal when every thought in the swarm seems to itch for days, sometimes at an intensity level that sends me clawing awkwardly for that unreachable spot one inch to the right of the angel-bone – you know, the one on the tight-shoulder-side of life.

Words like shame, regret, disappointment, regret, never, too late, settle, dissatisfaction, regret, are fast-breeding parasites in the muddled mind; squatters in the high-rent district whose rights are illogically and ironically protected by universal law, who have only to show up to get a free meal and a place to stay.

How unfortunate and unfair that words like forgiveness, self-love, beauty, perfection, joy, good, have to be lassoed into one’s consciousness over and over, with never-ending dedication and a fool’s faith – like doing crunches every day to keep in touch with those abs we’ve heard are underneath – just to make a blip on one’s screen of awareness (I mean, how many crunches have you done without seeing any result? What does it take???).

So, several parasitic concepts are giving me the itch right now.

The double-edged blade of “risk” is neither friend nor foe, though we tend to sing the praises of the shiny side of the sword here (and rightly so – enough of that toothy, serrated side being worshipped out there), but I cannot help but see how the risks I have taken in my life have mostly led me down the painful path to regret. My mind is pretty clever sometimes, in the Cheshire Cat way that minds can be clever enough to lead one just out of earshot of one’s higher voice – one’s True Voice? – so intellectually I know that I can take this idea and spin it into a positive… but where does the spin begin and where does it end?

Once I start the new-age “think positive” spin, how do I decide what was first spun and what is just REAL?

I can say that all my risks worked out because we all got out alive and it could always be worse, but that’s not real – that’s not what I really feel. That’s a manufactured thought, designed by the Cheshire cat mind and the new wave of feel-good thinking which, by the way, I buy into 99%.

I keep being drawn back to the scene in Adam Sandler’s Spanglish where Tia Leone’s character is having a nervous breakdown in her big, black SUV with her mother standing by the window saying, “lately your low self-esteem is just good common sense.”

I usually only write or appear in any way when I have something figured out; when I have trekked past the mirage’s promise of quenching my thirst on the surface, and burrowed deeply enough into the earth’s bosom to slurp one sip of crystal clear truth, swirling it around on my parched palate, grateful and cleansed…

But that is not where they send my mail. I am thrilled to have a glimpse now and then and bring home my big fish tales to anyone who’ll listen, but I dwell too in this buggy swamp with the squatters and skeeters.

I am not sure what I am risking today. I’m not sure I’ve ever actually known what was at risk in the moment that I “took” it. There has always been an unfolding of joys or consequences I could not have seen around those corners. I’m not sure if it is “good” to share the negative feelings while they still feel negative. I’ve always gone with the if-you-don’t-have-something-nice-to-say dogmatic principle, so this is a new approach for me.

I’m going to say that I’m risking looking at my shit realistically and owning the fact that I feel, at times, like I could drown in a sea of regret. Like I am on damage control. Like I’ll do the best with where I got myself but I followed that damn disappearing, hallucinated Cheshire cat so far off course that I have given up on finding my way back… like I can never risk again because I am frozen by the cold reality of how long and empty the hall of life can feel and how far an echo can travel. Like I need to mourn some losses (is mourning a task one can ever complete?).

Maybe I’m risking a different kind of honesty.

My life is so good and I have so much to be joyful about in the NOW – but I am apparently never quite finished punishing myself for my past mistakes, so I have to rip myself out of the moment (don’t worry, I know it’s wrong and I am already punishing myself for this, too). That’s not the sort of thing you admit on a blog! This is a place for higher thinking and self-development, answers and solutions, steps forward and progress!

The best I can say is that Mercury is retrograde and I am, too.

This post originally appeared on True Voices’ RiskADay Blog Project which has now concluded.

 Andi Lea-Kraus is a yoga teacher, personal trainer, writer , and all-around artist who is cracking the code of the symbolic and recording the spiritually hilarious. Her adventures so far have included several years and a cooking show in post-Apartheid South Africa, a stint in rural south Georgia, a brief but sparkling singing career which she intends to revive, and a glorious indigo daughter named Dom. When she’s not teaching, training, writing, painting, taking photos, singing, or doing laundry, Andrea can be found in her kitchen, channeling her grandmother through new recipes, and feeding folks. Andi’s plans for the future include finding her way to the musical theatre stage. To learn more about her and her work, please visit her website here.

What’s Your Anthem?

What’s my Anthem? I need an Anthem???

Yes! In fact you may need more than one. An anthem is a song or speech or poem – or whatever it is that works for you – that you want played loudly (over the PA system, through your earphones, or just in your head) as you walk, practically petrified, through the daunting arenas of your life.

I have Arenas? You mean with lions and bulls???

Well, not exactly real lions and bulls, although there are certainly times in the arena when we feel like we’re about to be eaten alive. Sometimes simply showing up as who we really are and saying what we really think, can feel just that dangerous.

I know you’ve experienced this. Maybe your arena is a board room, a sales pitch, a stage, or even being present for a difficult conversation with someone you love. Perhaps you could’ve used an anthem in school when you faced that all-important test or, worse, the principal’s office. Yikes.

There is a way, though, to make stepping into your arena, with your anthems playing, less scary – even rewarding.

It’s the Daring Way™.

Watch for more to come about that. Today I’m here to tell you about  anthems.

The other day I was writing to the members of a Daring Way™ group I’m running. I was elaborating on an assignment, reminding them to come to this week’s session with the names of their anthems.

Originally, the exercise was for them to pick a song by which they feel uplifted, encouraged, and remind them of how brave and magnifecent they are, and what authentic gifts they bring. But since music doesn’t affect everyone the way it does me (or Brené Brown who chose to include this exercise in her Daring Way™ program), I extended the assignment to include anything that empowers them to be themselves out loud.

What about a playlist?

Making a list of examples to send them turned out to be so fun for me, that I didn’t want to stop! And I didn’t want to keep that list all to myself and them either. So, you’re in luck! I’m posting it here for you.

I do have one caveat (and confession): This list is by no means complete. Which is why I didn’t want to stop when I was making the list of examples. There are so many more great candidates! Maybe I’ll get to those in a later post (or posts), but for now, you’ll hane to just enjoy these.

Music:

Poems by:

  • Billy Collins
  • David Whyte
  • Derek Walcott
  • Emily Dickenson
  • Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Balkhī (Rumi)
  • John O’Donohue
  • Lucille Clifton
  • Mary Oliver
  • Maya Angelou
  • Naomi Shihab Nye
  • Oriah Mountain Dreamer
  • Pablo Neruda
  • Richard Gilbert
  • Shamseddin Mohammad (Hafiz or Hafez)
  • Shel Silverstein

Books by:

  • Alice Walker
  • Anne Lamott
  • Bill Wilson
  • Brené Brown
  • Charlotte Kasl
  • Christiane Northrup
  • Dale Carnegie
  • Daniel Gilbert
  • David Schwartz
  • Elizabeth Gilbert
  • Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
  • Julia Cameron
  • Hermann Hesse
  • Laura Overstreet Biering! 🙂
  • Louise Hay
  • Marianne Williamson
  • Nancy Blair
  • Napoleon Hill
  • Nelson Mandela
  • Pema Chödrön
  • Randy Pausch
  • Rick Tamlyn
  • SARK
  • Sonia Choquette
  • Sue Monk Kidd
  • Thich Nhat Hanh
  • Viktor Frankl, or maybe even

Quotes from:

  • Abraham Lincoln
  • Albert Einstein
  • Anne Frank
  • Ben Franklin
  • Betty Friedan
  • Beverly Sills
  • Billy Jean King
  • Eleanor, Franklin, or Theodore Roosevelt
  • Elizabeth Cady Stanton
  • Elizabeth Kübler-Ross
  • Erica Jong
  • Gloria Steinem
  • Helen Keller
  • Henry Ford
  • Indira or Mahatma Gandhi
  • Jimmy Carter
  • John or Robert Kennedy
  • Lucius Annaeus Seneca
  • Malala Yousafza
  • Martha Graham
  • Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • Mother Teresa
  • Oprah Winfrey
  • Ovid
  • Richard Branson
  • Rosa Parks
  • Steve Jobs
  • Susan B. Anthony
  • Vince Lombardi
  • Walt Disney
  • Warren Buffett
  • William James

Also… there are some inspiring Academy Awards Acceptance Speeches (see my March 13th blog post to get you started with these), and there are some awesome TED talks (get the top 1o here) and TEDx talks (get the top 10 here)…

OK. Since I have other things to do today, and I’m sure you do, too, I’ll stop here.

Now it’s your turn.

Pleeeeeease, even if it’s only one a day, take these like vitamins – try them out, take them in, and decide which ones make you feel the best. Then make your own list. You can start by “cheating off of my paper.” Then, before you know it, you’ll be choosing anthems seemingly written for you.

And please check back in with me here so I can “cheat off of your paper, too.” I hope you have fun perusing my anthems and then picking yours. Why?

Because it’s time to march confidently into your arenas, head held high ( even if you’re quaking in your boot), with your anthems turned up to 11!

 

PS I apologize for not providing you links to every single item above, but that would have surely gotten me in trouble with the Google police. And “ain’t nobody got time for that!”

Dropping the Ball

By Guest Blogger, Carolyn Cook.

OMG, I forgot to blog on my assigned day.

I know in advance that I am forgiven, so I’m not even going to pretend to obsess about this.  I know that you understand how it feels when you drop the ball. Right now, my life is a like game of catch. Most days, the ball is winding up in my glove. But on days like today, I’m not only dropping it, I’m watching it roll down the street and into the storm drain. Goodbye, ball.

I can’t even think about taking an intentional risk today. Risk is built into the structure of my life.  I am taking risks every day, because of the choices I’ve already made:

I have chosen to homeschool my child.

I have chosen to move my mother, who has dementia, to an assisted living facility that is five minutes from my home, and to be actively involved in her care.

I have chosen a career in the arts, which means I make very little money for a very large commitment of time, energy, and emotion.

There are new risks I want to take, and I’m looking forward to the time when life feels safe and boring again so that I can shake things up with an exciting new venture. But now is the time to hunker down and deal with the risky choices I’ve already made.

My next blog date is my fiftieth birthday. If there’s any risk I need to take at this stage of my life, it may be the risk of slowing down, dropping more balls, and letting them roll away. I simply want to love my husband, my mother, my daughter and my siblings. I want to be grateful for this amazing life we have with each other before it slips away.

If there’s any risk I need to take right now, it’s the risk of admitting that I am not in charge. Life is too big for me to hold in my glove. I’m part of a team, and it’s okay to let other people catch the ball sometimes. That’s how the game is played.

This post originally appeared True Voices’ RiskADay blog project, which has now concluded.

 is a sometimes peaceful, sometimes frazzled individual who works to a raise a daughter, build a marriage, and explore the human condition through theatre, art, music, history, literature, and relationship. She is now posting her insightful thoughts on her own blog here.

What Sucks and Saves, Simultaneously?

Apologizing.

Ugh. I so totally hate to have to admit to another person (or persons) that I’ve acted in a way that was, let’s just say, less than becoming. But in my life, I’ve had to apologize to friends, family members, clients, and colleagues for many, various transgressions, some intentional and some innocent and accidental. But while I was I was creating a list of the errors of my ways in order to illustrate my point, it occurred to me that each and all of these offenses, as different as they might seem, fall into one category.

I have offended by not showing up.

Literally.

I’ve not shown up by not calling, writing, or appearing when or where I said I would, or when it was just the right thing to do.

Figuratively.

I’ve not shown up by being there in body, but not in mind. I don’t know about you, but I can be in the same room with someone, supposedly engaged in a conversation, and yet be miles away. I don’t do it all the time, of coure, but I can be thinking of just about anything other than the topic of conversation. Thinking things like:

  • “What’s for lunch?”
  • “Why am I here?”
  • “I wonder how the dogs are reacting to this thunderstorm.”
  • “Wow, look his outfit.”
  • “Ooh. That’s a good topic for a blog post.”
  • “Who’s that over there?”
  • “Oh! I need to talk to her.”
  • “I’ve got to add ink to my office supplies-to-buy list.”
  • “Speaking of lists, I’d better go. Today’s list is so long, and I’m never going to get this time back.”

All of which lead to the next set of thoughts:

  • “Stop that, Laura. You get back here.”
  • “Now, what what was I just thinking about?”
  • “Darn it. How do I get that thought back?”
  • “I should have written it down.”
  • “Was it about something I’m supposed to be doing right now?”
  • “Who was it about someone I was supposed to write or call today?”
  • “Oh, no. Who is it I’m going to let down this time?”
  • “Crap. What is wrong with me?”

Can you relate?

I hope so, because that would mean I’m not alone. I hope not, for your sake and for the sakes of the people in your life.

Today.

This morning I wrote an apology letter to someone I really care about, and yes, it sucked. You know, all that grovelling, explaining my actions (or my inaction, as it was in this case), asking for forgiveness, and hoping beyond hope I’ll get it.

But while writing that letter, I began to experience something else – something in addition to the angst. What was it?

Relief.

I don’t know how this person is going to respond. Certainly, I hope she can find her way to forgiving me. What I didn’t do is kind of a big deal, and so it would be a big gift to get a sincere pardon from her.

But in a way, I’ve already received a gift. A gift from myself.

Apologizing and asking for forgiveness has already saved me. Saved me from having to slip out the back door of our relationship and then avoid her for the rest of my life. Saved me from the debilatating self-hatred that comes from not showing up for the people I care about, including myself. Saved me from all of the self-destructive behaviors I would eventually engage in as a result of that self-hatred.

So yes, apologizing sucks and saves, simultaneously.

Can we do better?

I believe we can. I believe that when we acknowledge what we’ve done, feel the impact of that (on ourselves and others),  and ask for forgiveness (from ourselves and others), then regardless of the other person’s response, we get relief. We can change. We are saved from being who we’d otherwise have become.

We can do better. We don’t have to spend the rest of our lives all twisted up – running, hiding, performing, hustling, and pretending to be someone we’re not, because we hate who we are.

We get to do better.

We get to be with the people who are important to us, really be with them. We get to connect on a level much deeper than we could the other way. We get to see and be seen, hear and be heard. We get to truly be with ourselves, too. We get to have different conversations in our heads. We get to love ourselves.

We get to be realAnd what a gift that is.

Class in Session

By guest blogger, Carolyn Cook.

I feel like such an idiot

Brave soul that I am, I’ve ventured into new career territory this fall, and I’m already wishing I’d bought a career GPS. Or at least a map.

Starting tomorrow, I’ll be teaching a university class two days a week, and two high school classes one day a week.  I haven’t actually taught a class yet, but that hasn’t stopped me from developing a severe case of impostor syndrome.

Sure, I know the material.

But that doesn’t mean I can teach it! It certainly doesn’t mean I can write a SYLLABUS for it, for heaven’s sake.  Come to think of it, writing a syllabus scares me a lot more than teaching the class does, because it requires actual planning. This is a problem, because (a.) I don’t like planning, and (b.) I’m going to be teaching Voice and Speech for the Actor, and I’d really like to meet my students and evaluate their needs before I decide what we’re going to be doing on a Tuesday afternoon eight weeks from now.

My syllabus has to contain information about course objectives, homework assignments (Use Your Voice! Speak!), and plagiarism, which is also a problem because I’m planning to lift much of the content from the department chair’s most recent syllabus. (If I give him credit, am I cheating?)

I am going to love my students; I always love acting students. 

I love their breakthrough moments, their discoveries, their growth.  But I usually teach outside of academe.  Those students know I’m a professional actor, and they want to learn what I know.

These new students are going to need even more. They are going to need academic credit.  And to get that credit, they are going to need HOMEWORK ASSIGNMENTS, and they are going to need GRADES. But before anything else, they are going to need a SYLLABUS.

Oh heavens.  What have I gotten myself into?

This is what hanging out with a bunch of risk-takers will get you, folks.  Watch out!

This post first appeared on True Voices’ RiskADay blog project, which has now concluded.

 is a sometimes peaceful, sometimes frazzled individual who works to a raise a daughter, build a marriage, and explore the human condition through theatre, art, music, history, literature, and relationship. She is now posting her thoughts on her own blog here at https://lifelongmetamorphoses.wordpress.com/author/cook1123/.

PS While most of the pictures on this site were taken Laura Overstreet Biering (me), this one was not, and I know not who the photographer is. Since it was taken quite a while ago, and it is of my father, Robert Overstreet, doing what he loved best in all the world, teaching, I took the liberty of posting it. If you know who the photographer is, please let me know. I would be happy to give credit where credit is due!

How Will You Spend Your Last 92 Days?

If you don’t know how you’ll spend your last 92 days, then you’d better think fast!

Why?

Because between today and January 1st, there are just 92 more days.

Quick question: When you first read the title of this post, did you think I meant your last 92 days, as in here on Earth? If so, good – that’s what I was hoping you’d think.

You see, I assert that your response to the latter can inform how you’ll ultimately respond to the former. Or, in other words, what you want your last 92 days in life to be like is something to think about when contemplating the 92 days left before we ring in another 365.

On many of the websites I visit, the experts are touting how important it is for us to consider carefully how we will spend this last quarter of the year. How will we get the most out our businesses?” they ask. “How much money can we make?” That’s all well and good. I may even think about the answers to those questions.

But what I want to suggest to you (and to me, too) is that we also think about what’s vitally important to us before choosing how we spend the gift of the upcoming days, and the all the ones that follow.

As the prolific writer Annie Dillard so wisely tells us, “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.”

… which leads me to another quote for us to remember, from the also prolific writer, the late Stephen Covey, who said, “Begin with the end in mind.”

So yes, let’s ponder how to make the most out of our next 92 days. And as we do, let’s not forget to take Ms. Dillard’s and Mr. Covey’s wisdom into account. How do we really want to live, after all?

Do we want to die before we die, or do we want to live while we’re still alive?

After that sobering thought, how about a little levity? Check out how this guy (and his dog) choose to spend some of their time by clicking here.

Profile Picture + One

By Guest Blogger, Betsey Brogan.

“The younger generation” has grumbled about how the average age on Facebook is old enough to be grandparents. No, it didn’t start out that way. But, as time goes on, more of us who have seen lots of birthdays have found joy in reconnecting with long time friends through Facebook.

Unlike many things in our hectic lives, it’s easy to log on and learn about friends, see and share pictures, and jot a note – all in the time it takes to eat breakfast. We’re able to write to people, who. because of distance and time, had fallen off our to-do lists; people with whom re-connecting does the heart some good.

Then I post a picture of myself and my same sex partner. Yikes! Talk about stepping out onto a whole new platform of risky.

The way I look at it, though, is that some, those who don’t know about my 10 year relationship, may be surprised. But if we are to be authentic in our “sharing,” I want them to know about my house and home, which includes this fantastic woman who wants to be with me in the good and bad for the rest of my life.

Others may see my profile pic and say to themselves:,“I guess I don’t want to ‘friend’ her after all.” And to them I say, “It’s my life, and it’s up to me whether I want to live it authentically or live in such a way that is easier for others to take.

When I first came out to my Dad many, many years ago, his first response was, “Your mother and I will always love you, just don’t tell anyone OK?” Bless his heart. Over time, he came to realize that being gay wasn’t fatal and what truly matters is how a person loves, lives and contributes to her community.

Posting a picture of my partner and me may be risky. I’ll never know what those who regretted “friending” me thought when they saw it. I do know that it has welcomed some of my friends from the past to seek me out as counsel, in regards to how to interact with their gay children. That is really an honor.

Something about living out loud, and risking being authentic, has signaled to my dear friends, that I am a safe place for tough questions they are asking themselves. What an honor, really. And how reaffirming that I can live a life I am proud of.

So, Dad, if you are listening, “I don’t go out of my way to tell anyone I am gay, just as you don’t tell anyone that you are an American. It’s just who I am.”

Live your life to the fullest, live with integrity, and don’t be surprised if someday someone asks you questions from their heart. What a gift those ‘heart to heart’ talks are. What a precious gift.

This post originally appeared as a part of True Voices’ RiskADay project, which has now concluded.

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