Beard of the day

Beard Buds

Beard Buds

One step at a time

One foot in front of the other.

So yesterday, much to Fearsome’s embarrassment, I purged. I purged all over this here blog thingy. Yep just spewed negative vitrol as if I was a sorority pledge after her first frat party who was lucky enough her closest friend was there to hold her hair back.

Thanks to all y’all for being that close friend.

Fearsome is proud of me for the few lines of wisdom that closed that post:

“I must remember that I am the only one who chooses my thoughts, perceptions and reactions. I am the only one in control of my beliefs. I am shaped by my thoughts, perceptions and reactions which in turn help me define my beliefs. What I think right now, can and will become my tomorrow. The only way to change tomorrow is to change my thoughts today. My thoughts really do become reality.”

After my purge I took a step. I put a DVD in of a favorite motivational film. I meditated. I went to a meeting. I talked, laughed, shared and smiled. I felt better.

Today the next foot takes a step forward. I already see the sunshine outside. I can tell it’s going to be a beautiful day.

Today needs a soundtrack. I know just the tune. It’s one from my childhood. It makes me smile.

Darkness

I don’t often write about depression. I try my best to always stay on the sunny side. I believe that on which we focus our energy is what we will experience the most. I prefer a positive outlook and experience, thus I focus my energies on that path and rarely on the other.

I do believe in feeling ones feelings in order to heal and move on from situations or moods that are less that Pollyanna. I’m less than Pollyanna at the moment.

I’ve avoided writing about it, as I just expressed my belief about focus. Yet I also just conveyed the necessity to allow feelings as a method toward healing. I recognize this moment’s need to heal.

There are circumstances beyond my control which affect my psyche that are now coupled with frustrations in the s-l-o-w and sometimes painful recovery that is my shoulder surgery, the trickiness of a fifty something lower back that due to surgery recovery misses its regular yoga (read: spasms, sciatica & pain), the persistent pain of the overused other shoulder, recent death of my brother,  a lackluster year of sales performance and the mounting pile of work ahead.

Another blogger just posted about playing the slots. This week when I pulled my one arm bandit’s handle instead of a line full of cherries, my playline came up with all the forementioned jokers.

Once upon a time I experienced a long lasting depression that required medications and regular counseling. Those days are long gone. For many a year now the occasional depressive cycle is short lived, say a week at maximum, and thankfully rare.

I had almost forgotten the darkness. The utter black darkness.

My experience of depression manifests as follows…

…Everything appears darker as in a lack of light. It is harder for me to see and I mean physically see. I can only see a small area in front of me as if I have blinders on and peripheral vision is completely lost. I feel as if I am in a tunnel. I feel closed in as in claustrophobic. Everything is slow. Then everything is fast and I am slow. I cannot focus on tasks or thoughts or vision. I think irrational thoughts. I feel isolated. I cry easily. I take things personally. I loose my sense of purpose and motivation.  I think about self harm (no worries I don’t do). I wonder why? I hurt. Every task seems hard. I’m easily distracted. I get anxious then complacent all in one moment. I want to nap. My temper is short. I am self conscious. Everything is my fault. I’m deafeated. Color drains from my world and my usual sense of wonder is replaced with a sense of doom.

If you are new to Fearsome Beard you may be clicking off of here about now.

Don’t.

This is not our typical post. This is a cleansing.

How do I now change my mental state? How do I flip my switch? How do I get back to me? How do I regain that fun loving positive smiling wonder filled person that I love?

I take a step. Today I decided that step is to come clean and reveal that my beloved Pollyanna state that I relish is just that. It’s a state, a cycle, a mood, an outlook, a feeling that I move in and out of. It is a state that I choose. It is a state that I can manifest and spend MOST of my life experience in, however my experience does cycle. I am human. I am not perfect. I can only improve myself as I’ll never perfect myself.

Hell, I would never want to be perfect.

I have shared in previous posts about vulnerability and my belief that we can develope strength through vulnerability. I am vulnerable right now. May this vulnerability build just a little tiny bit more strength in the fabric of me. Through sharing, may this vulnerablity touch someone else.

The best, and truthfully only, way out of any dark hole is to start to climb. Often if I can give or be of service to others along that climb I find the climb easier and faster. When I find something, just one thing, I can be grateful for … that will bring gratitude into the climb which will make it even easier. If I can be kind to myself and forgive myself for simply being human, my climb becomes more efficient.

I must remember that I am the only one who chooses my thoughts, perceptions and reactions. I am the only one in control of my beliefs. I am shaped by my thoughts, perceptions and reactions which in turn help me define my beliefs. What I think right now, can and will become my tomorrow. The only way to change tomorrow is to change my thoughts today. My thoughts really do become reality.

Chosen family

In the spring of 1994, I was but a young buck. Fearsome was in hiding as I was going through the early 90’s clean shaven pretty boy stage that was popular at the time. Yuck. Oh, and he wasn’t happy with my choice.

The Better Half and I were headed into year four of or life together and year 3 of our life in San Diego. Being transplants we were still exploring and establishing relationships in our new home town. Having bought a home and gotten settled into our careers it was time for our first “Big” vacation. Living in paradise we wanted something on the next level, a Southern Caribbean cruise.

At the time there was a young start up company that had gotten a good reputation in a sub-specialty that had never been marketed to for pleasure cruises, gay cruises. RSVP was the first and without realizing what he was doing, Kevin Mosier had changed niche travel and the criuse industry forever. But that’s a whole other story.

We booked a seven day cruise out of Aruba with ports in Curaçao, San Blas Islands, Cartagena Columbia and The Panama Canal. That particular RSVP cruise was aboard the SS OceanBreeze, a ship in The Dolphin Line.

SS Ocean Breeze of The Dolphin Line circa 1994. She was originally built in 1955 as a trans world immigrant ship and lots more about here can be found HERE.

SS OceanBreeze of The Dolphin Line circa 1994. She was originally built in 1955 as a history making trans-world immigrant liner and lots more about her can be found HERE.

We were able to get a couple friends from here in SoCal to join us and met a couple other friends at a pre-sail mixer to join us so we had a posse of six. Now we could complete a group costume for the costume party aboard ship for which RSVP had become famous.

On board we quickly made new friends in another group of seven from San Diego. They too were pulling together a group costume. They were the cast of Giligan’s Island, we were The Village People. They won first place, we came in second. The completion was fierce but each group had somehow cast just the right people in the right characters to pull it off. Afterward we all hung together and it looked as if there was a lost episode where The Village People had landed on the island. I’m sure there are pictures, but that was the days of Kodak film and they are somewhere in a drawer unfortunately needing to be scanned.

Little did that posse of 13 know, but we had accidentally just met the core of our own chosen family.

Chosen families are throughout all populations. However chosen families were a necessary group in gay culture. Many a gay man or lesbian had been rejected by biological families. Many of those not rejected had moved away from biological families in order to live and work in larger cities where they were more accepted and in many cases it was just safer. Another factor in chosen family is we were at the absolute height of the AIDS crisis and we had to be our own family to care for our dying brothers. Chosen Families are friends who become family support networks by choice and many times necessity.

I cannot begin to thank the lesbians enough who opened their hearts, minds, homes and wallets to care for their brothers during that dark part of our history just some 22 years ago. I think I can go out on a limb here and Thank these brave women for all of us brothers who survived as well as for those who didn’t.

The headline entertainers on that particular RSVP cruise were scheduled to perform the last night of our journey before returning to Aruba to disembark. Who you ask? None other than the fabulous Sister Sledge. We were all simply twitterpated with excitement  and ran up after a fabulous farewell dinner to grab front row seats. They gave a spectacular performance closing with, of corse, ‘We Are Family’. Before we knew it they had pulled all 13 of us sitting right in front of them onto the stage to dance with them as they closed the show. And dance? We did!

Our family was born, it has grown to more than 30 of the best friends one could ever wish for. This chosen family is the most treasured part of my life. And dance? We still do!

Firsts in 2016

Fearsome is a liberal Beard. He leans left, way left. Although the first he was ultimately hoping for didn’t happen, he is heartened with the following firsts from 2016:

1) Nevada elected Democrat Catherine Cortez Masto, the nation’s  first Latina Senator, to replace outgoing minority leader Democrat Senator Harry Reid.

Senator Catherine Cortez Masto

Senator Catherine Cortez Masto

2) Illinios elected Democrat Tammy Duckworth, the nation’s first disabled woman Senator, defeating incumbent Republican Senator Mark Kirk.

Disabled Veteran and US Senator Tammy Duckworth

Veteran & US Senator Tammy Duckworth

3) Oregon elected Kate Brown as the nations first ever elected openly out LGBT governor.

Kate Brown

Governor Kate Brown

4) California elected Democrat Kamala Harris as the first freshman Senator from the state in 24 years and the state’s first black Senator. She becomes the second ever black woman Senator and replaces outgoing Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer.

Attorney General Kamala Harris speaks at a news conference regarding criminal and civil responses to mortgage fraud in Los Angeles Monday, May 23, 2011 State Attorney General Kamala Harris said the new Mortgage Fraud Strike Force includes a team of 17 lawyers and eight special agents from the state Department of Justice. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)

Senator Kamala Harris

5) Minnesota elected the first ever Somali-American member of congress as they selected Democrat Ilhan Omar to a house seat when she won with more than 80% of the vote to represent her district.

Ilhan Omar

Representative Ilhan Omar

These little tid bits of good news brightened our day. If your leanings are similar to ours, hopefully they brightened yours a little as well.

Work

Work.

Is it a four letter word that is profane? Or is it a four letter word of Hope? Of Purpose? Of Character? Of Passion?

Google defines it as:img_2147

While it has a noble definition look at some of those synonyms, no wonder the word has a reputation thats leans negative. One thing I’ve learned in my life is I am in control of how I react and feel. So I choose to look further, and when I do I find these synonyms:

noun: effort, industry, service, elbow grease, employment, post, occupation, career, vocation, deeds, acts, actions, handiwork, composition, piece, creation, output.

verb: engage, labor, exert, sweat, earn, do, cultivate, function, go, run, operate, behave, use, handle, control, succeed, accomplish, achieve, produce, create, excite, drive, move, rouse.

Faced with circumstances out of my personal control that with which I find myself disappointed, confused, fearful or even angry, I have choices to make as to how I react. I can withdraw and become complacent. I can get angry and ruminate. I can resist and fight. I can work and find purpose.

Without purpose life often becomes dull. Without purpose passion is hard to find. Without purpose life fulfillment is elusive. Without purpose one can become lost.

Don’t get me wrong, fighting usually has a purpose, and it has a place …but is it always the best use of energy? Something I am finding as I mature is that if I resist something I tend to get more of it and expend unnecessary energy. If I work toward what I desire, instead of fighting what I don’t desire, I get more of what I want and I’ve used my energy in a more fulfilling and uplifting way.

Life, it sometimes gives me a lemon. I can throw that lemon back and start a fight or I can learn, become inspired and get to work. Work is lemonade to my soul as it gives me purpose. I may not always want the work that lemon brought me, but without it I languish.

(Giving credit …because credit definitely is due, I owe my inspiration for this post to this blogger.)

Mesuggah Shack

Mesuggah Shack is my local coffee shop. It’s just a kiosk on the corner across from my office. To my understanding Mesuggah is Yiddish for crazy …crazy in the good funny witty way.

Yesterday afternoon the owner of Mesuggah Shack wrapped his wonderful little coffee shop with this meaningful banner filled with words of welcome.

Mesuggah Shack San Diego CA

Mesuggah Shack San Diego CA

I bought an extra cup of coffee today.

Reflections on disheartenment and respect

I am part of humanity.

I must remember that humanity has many different beliefs, experiences and values.

I must understand that pendulums swing, the world turns and tides change. Then change back again.

I must remain open yet hold onto what values I have, and cherish that I am able to take small steps practicing, expressing and sharing those values.

I must share good, encouragement and respect helping others to the best of my ability.  My hand will be out to help those less fortunate. My ears will be open to listen and understand. My heart will share love. My work will be for betterment. My actions uplifting. My words kind.

Life is but a fleeting moment. While I may not always get what I felt important, I must never wallow in self pity. I choose not to waste what time I have.