On Death, Dying and Responsibility

I will die. Fearsome will die with me.

We do not know when but we will. It’s the cycle of life.

You know what? You will die too.

Morbid? No, not actually. Death is part of our life. Yes it’s as much part of yours as it is mine.

We cannot plan when we die or how we die. However we can plan for death.

We, the Better Half and I, wrote our original trust back in 2004. In 2004 gay men couldn’t get married in California, nor did the federal government recognize our relationship. We had an attorney draw up a trust mainly to protect us should one of us die. As it turns out a trust goes far beyond protecting two unmarried individuals that have built a life and many assets together.

We are way past due to update our trust and are in the middle of that update this week. Wow, have things changed in the past 13 years. Not only are we married in California but our marriage is recognized federally. In review it turns out our assets have more than doubled since creating the original trust. Not only has its value changed but our values and priorities have changed.

A trust gives direction to our survivors, maintains our assets, minimizes taxes, protects our pets, covers healthcare concerns, includes our charities, prevents post death disputes, contains our will and plans our funeral. Our trust will provide not only security but peace of mind.

With the updating of the trust comes contemplation of death. Contemplating death is movement toward acceptance. Planning for death helps bring peace of mind. Death is not something to fear, but something to embrace as part of life.

I am grateful for having the life I have. I choose to respect my life by planning for death.

Have you planned for yours?

“Let death be what takes us, not lack of imagination.” … BJ Miller

Advertisements

Mindset

Mindset is defined as the established set of attitudes held by someone. Mindset can also be defined as an attitude, disposition, mood, intention or inclination.

Mindset is a choice. I choose to choose a good one. It often takes work to not only make that good choice, but to stick to it. Often the choice of a better mindset runs counter to our culture thus the challenge. However the challenge of a good mindset is worth the effort and I believe with practice gets easier.

Somewhere in the southern Caribbean

Many a moon ago aboard Dolphin Cruise Line’s SS Sea Breeze we found ourselves anchored just off the coast of Aruba. Fearsome was in remission at the time as I had developed a bad habit called shaving, but he was there in spirit as he always is. It was an early morning under the searing southern Caribbean sun and not a good morning for the hangover from last evenings heavy drinking dance floor adventures.

We found ourselves amongst  many other bleary eyed hungover gay men searching for that perfect spot on deck of this RSVP cruise from which to observe that days total solar eclipse. We were anchored just off the coast of Aruba for a reason, we were in the path of totality in a spot calculated to have the longest time in actual totality, about 3 minutes 40 seconds to my recollection. That sun was hot and all I wanted was a place to sit down, drink my coffee and nurse this hangover. A friend handed me a Bloody Mary. Life was suddenly better.

A passenger affectionately known as The Chicken Lady passed by pouring creme in anyone’s coffee who needed it. She was carrying her trademark chicken purse and the creme flowed on demand into awaiting coffee cups out of an artificial breast that she wore under her bikini top. The Chicken Lady wasn’t known to be reserved nor inhibited in any way imaginable.

The ship’s crew worked feverishly to make sure all 800 passengers were well taken care of and comfortable. They made sure we all had our beverages of choice as well as our solar eclipse viewers. Morning cocktial music played, we laughed, the scent of sunscreen permeated the air and we waited.

The searing heat of the tropical sun started to diminish. A quick check with the solar eclipse glasses confirms that the moon has begun it’s journey between us and our sun. It seemed as if someone had found both the dimmer and the thermostat as not only was the light becoming more appropriate for a party, but the heat had been turned down a notch. We continued our wait laughing with our friends, checking the moon’s progress through the viewers and ordering more cocktails.

Suddenly it all changed.

I had experienced partial eclipses before. No. Big. Deal.

This was different.

In the distance it appears as if a very dark storm had formed. It was black out there. It was moving. It was moving fast and it was headed toward us. However there were no clouds but just darkness. Not just darker but black. This shadow was moving and there was no escaping it. That shadow of black was coming for us and fast. We adorned the viewers and looked up to find just a tiny pierce of the sun left and then it was gone. Nothing left but a faint corona and then a voice from the crowd, all on their feet at this moment, screamed “It’s safe now, take off your glasses!”

Our photos from Aruba’s total eclipse

Nighttime. Nighttime with all the stars out yet a faint light of dawn 360 degrees around us just at the lip of horizon. The birds, the songs of the birds as if it were daybreak. The lights, all the streetlights and lighted signs on the tiny island of Aruba had lit up. It was nighttime but it wasn’t. The horizon was beautiful. The colors of sunrise 360 degrees around us with all the stars out and this black circle above us. Tiny black, very black circle with a moving light shimmering around it.

Surreal.

Ouch! The light! Someone screams”Glasses on!”

The moon had moved on and the first pierce of intense light had broken through. The sun was back, although just a tiny corner. We looked down to realize that we were no longer in the dark shadow as a faint light of sun had encompassed us. The shadow was moving again. The darkness had left us and it was moving again, moving away from us. Moving away fast. We could see it’s circular edge moving across the sea as the light replaced the darkness in the water. The great storm of darkness moved on and so fast that we couldn’t follow it.

We watched as the wonderment of that total eclipse moved on for others to experience that day.

Then we danced.

Today I sit in awe and gratitude for all the gifts I have been blessed with thus far in my wonderful life. Thus far!

Happy Eclipse!

I love

In order to live as a human among humans I must learn to accept.

I must learn to accept that we are different. I must learn that we are the same. I must learn we share. I must learn I will not like everything. I must learn that not everyone will like me. I must learn that many times it’s better to focus on similarities rather than differences. I must learn that not all human aspects are good. I must learn to forgive.

In order to live a life that I myself can feel good about, I must, and will, stand up for righteousness.

I will lead by example. I will do good. I will be kind. I will speak justly. I will convey honesty. I will practice equality. I will appreciate diversity. I will look for commonality. I will share. I will understand. I will give. I will grow. I will listen. I will strive for betterment. I will serve. I will teach. I will encourage. I will compliment. I will support. I will practice. I will be vulnerable. I will gain courage. I will laugh. I will cry. I will accept. I will stand. I will love.

Capital Treasures 4

After our enjoyable visit at the National Gallery it was time for our appointment at The African American History Museum.

National Museum of African-American History & Culture

Definately an amazing museum and wonderful addition to the Smithsonian, this museum is worth the visit. Still being the new kid on The Mall it was packed and tickets hard to come by. We enjoyed it immensely, but we will make a point to come back at a later date when it isn’t so crowded and can be enjoyed as a Museum of its caliber should be. I know they have a lot of people waiting to get in and that tickets are limited in number, but I think they could do better limiting the number of tickets issued to an even smaller number.

Contemplative Court Waterfall Fountain

The Contemplative Court Waterfall Fountain was worth the trip itself alone. Overwhelming. Fearsome had some tears to catch as I began to sob. Cleansing.

Jackie Robinson #42

Fearsome had more tears to catch as I choked up over Jackie’s jersey. One can see the faint reflection of Fearsome’s San Diego Padres hat in the glass just above the shoulder to the right of the Jackie’s face.

Jackie Robinson is truly an inspirational man of honor. Integrating baseball was not an easy task. Jackies strength was in his own personal restraint and self discipline. Fearsome highly recommends the movie about Jackie’s life. The movie is simply “42”. Jackie is one of Fearsome’s heroes.

Is your god dead?

Fearsome Beard …a place for beards to contemplate and to grow their souls.

It’s been a while and it’s due time Fearsome did just that.

Contemplate.

Every human has their own personal right to have, or have not, a relationship with a power, an essence, a universe, an energy or a god of their own choosing. Common human decency, at least my common human decency, allows one to respect all others in their choices surrounding such personal matters.

I call the power of my choosing god. God is a simple word, or acronym if you will, that stands for good orderly direction, or group of drunks, or is simply dog spelled backward.  My god is love. Period. Love. (My dogs are love too, what a coincidence.)

How do I treat my brother? Do I show love? Do I respect? Do I even acknowledge?

Is my god dead?

How about you? Is your god, or something like it, dead?

The New York Times article under the highlighted word “HERE” below is worth the read whether you have, or have not, a source energy outside of yourself. The article is about being human. Being a good human.

Click HERE to go to said article and contemplate on a deeper level.

I’m not perfect. I will never be perfect. I can strive to be better. I can strive to remember to love, to remember to respect, to remember to share. I can try, and try to try daily. I can love.

It always happens…

Why it is that every time I have a trip to make I get crazy busy right before it is time to leave?

Is it Murphy’s law?

Since I’m busy getting ready do I attract more busy?

Busy attracts business?

Dont get me wrong, I like busy. Busy brings me income. Busy creates meaning. Busy gives purpose.

I think I’ll decide to sit in my seat 2B to Chicago this morning in gratitude for being busy.

Values

“A Nation should not be judged by how it treats its highest citizens, but it’s lowest ones”― Nelson Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom

 

“We’re all human, aren’t we? Every human life is worth the same, and worth saving.”
― J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

 

“Good works is giving to the poor and the helpless, but divine works is showing them their worth.” ― Criss Jami, Killosophy

 

“Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value.”
― Albert Einstein

 

“No one has ever become poor by giving.”
― Anne Frank, diary of Anne Frank

 

“Don’t tell me what you value, show me your budget, and I’ll tell you what you value.”
― Joe Biden

 

“Those who don’t value their words, will never value your wishes.”
― Amit Kalantri, Wealth of Words

 

-Some Fearsome thoughts-                                                                                                                                  …It is time I again contemplated values. My values, good values, value of others, value of the material and value of the spiritual. Contemplation helps me to re-enforce my core beliefs and personal morals. I post these quotes for inspiration from words that resonate with me.

I’ve found in my life that by living my values, I lead by example. In some way we all lead others and in some way we all follow others. I sincerely hope I follow good ones and that those I lead have found a good leader. Each day I must try to simply do my best. I must strive to do good and share goodness.

We can each make the world a better place. We simply have to start with ourselves and start right where we are.

Why not start right now?

When you find yourself stuck in traffic…

…get out and dance!

It’s no secret that La La Land was our Fearsome pick for best picture of 2017. We’ve written about it HERE and THERE.

To me the opening scene was one of Hollywood histories best ever openings and one of  the best ever musical numbers. Why yes I think it is right there with both Gene Kelly’s Singin’ in the Rain and American in Paris Ballet. It is simple, diverse and mesmerizing.

Today I found this:

Turns out it is no accident that I appreciate this scene.

I’ll  start with my childhood dreams…

This is something that I have never shared publicly and actually only to a couple very close friends. I always wanted to be a dancer. Not just any dancer. A chorus line dancer.

As a child I fantasizes about being in the line up, as you will, behind the star. I wanted to be part of a great team of dancers that functioned as a fine tuned, well choreographed group. We would be great and famous the world over as a troupe. I didn’t want to be a lone star out there by myself hogging the spotlight but sharing it with an incredible team.

I can still remember the day when I overheard my parents arguing and my dream was crushed. I had asked my mother for dance lessons. She and dad were having a horrible argument and the part that stands t was my father yelling back at my mother that he wasn’t having it. He wasn’t having it because dance lessons would make his son turn into a goddamned faggot. The words burned into my brain as my dream died. I secretly had news for him, I already was a faggot. I never had a dance lesson.

Life took me elsewhere. Although I never had the dance lessons and my dream of being  in a chorus line never materialized, my life has been and still is absolutely amazing.

To say that I lean toward Pollyanna isn’t an understatement. Don’t mistake me for perfect though, I have my down moments. Wow do I. The key is moving beyond the valleys in life and looking for the joy no matter where one is.  Be thankful, share, love, appreciate, laugh and dance. No …maybe we won’t all get out in the middle of a packed freeway and dance, but we can find a good song and sing it behind the wheel. We can smile at the person in the car beside us. We can let someone in front of us who maybe needs to get to their child’s school as they have a little one waiting.

I still have another 40 and maybe even fifty years ahead of me. I can take a dance lesson. I can encourage a child to follow their dreams. I can donate time or money to help someone realize a dream that would otherwise be lost. I can create beauty and share joy.

There is way to much adventure to be had and beauty in this world that I have yet to experience. Thus when I find myself stuck, be it stuck literally or figuratively, I can get out and dance. Life is just another day of sun!

Now for that complete dance scene one more time…

Tears of joy still flow each and every time I see it.

 

Happy Earth Day

Let’s all make Mother Earth proud and get out and March!

Fearsome is ready.

Fearsome in his Pussy Hat

Or given the march…

Fearsome in his DNA Top Hat….

Decisions, decisions….

Whatever Fearsome decides to wear doesn’t matter because Science is real. Even according to a certain book with parables from some 2000 years ago, humans are directed to be a Shepard, good Shepards, of the home given us. We must take care our blessings and not exploit those blessings. We all live here. We all must share. Let us be good stewards of the gifts we have received that we may share them with each other and most of all …those yet to come.

Stand up, speak out, do good and do right.

Hummingbird Heaven

Spring is in full sprung right in my very own back yard!

Erythrina Coralloides Blossoms

AKA Naked Coral Tree

A Hummingbird’s delight

This tree is native to Mexico and is very drought tolerant making it an excellent landscape tree for Southern California. It has a contorted sculptural growth habit giving it  visual interest in the dormant season then bursts into blossom while still  leafless giving it the common name of Naked Coral Tree. All other Coral Trees bloom in full foliage.

The hummingbirds are quite territorial and often have spats on and around this particular tree at this time of year. There were several creating chaos with me as I tried to snap a photo. They apparently love it’s nectar as they can often be seen inserting their beaks into the long tubular flowers. This tree blooms from late February into early May, at which time foliage will rapidly replace the flowers almost overnight.

Spring is renewal. Spring is life. Spring is resurrection. Spring is growth. Spring is a new beginning. Spring is fresh. Spring is exciting. Spring is gratifying. Spring is a blessing. Spring is hope.

What spring do you see outside your window at this very moment?

Why we call SoCal home…

Home.

I don’t know what it is about San Diego, Los Angeles and Southern California as a whole but whatever it is, it is home. Maybe it’s the sun, the air, the mountains, breezes, ocean, hills, freeways, people, cars, homes, cities, suburbs, hopes, dreams, vistas, countryside, beaches, life, joy, fashion, magic, attitude, possibilities, absurdity, freedoms, love, expression, beauty, people, diversity, aspirations, desert, wildlife, vibration, temperature, light, opportunities, allure…or maybe just the illusion.

When I sat with a dear friend in a dark theatre in my second home, Ft. Lauderdale Florida, one evening in early January this scene opened La La Land. Tears of joy steamed out of my eyes, into Fearsome then dripped upon my shirt. The beauty, hope and life of the place I love were right there upon the big screen. I saw a celebration of life and of home. Life as a carefully coreagraphed song and dance upon a closed freeway overpass. Beauty is simply where one finds it, as it is always there.

This is my home.

I wish you love in your home. Feel it, embrace it.

🎶Another day of sun, It’s just another day of sun!🎵

The elusive cycle

One of the rarest occurances in baseball hitting for the cycle. Hitting for the cycle is simply one player hitting a single, a double, a triple and a home run all in one game. Hitting for the cycle has only occurred 307 times in the history of Major Legue baseball since the first recorded in 1882. A feat more rare than a cycle is a no hitter. A no hitter is a pitcher completing a full 9 innings without the opposing team achieving a single hit which has only occurred  289 times in MLB history. The perfect game (no hitter ever even reaches a base)  has only been achieved 23 times in MLB history with the rarest occurance being hitting for the cycle in perfect order only happening 14 times.

This happened Tuesday:

Wil Myers landed The Padres their second cycle in Padres history. He hit a single, a double, a home run and finally, at his 8th inning fourth at bat, a triple. The triple is that hardest one out of the four to get.

I love baseball. I love the ability for a player to have a fresh start each and every time a bat is picked up.

The cycle is quite the achievement. Think about it. In most games a player only gets 4 at bats or 5 tops. Many games a player will have not even achieve one hit in a game much less four. Consider that in 140 years of Major Legue baseball more than 210,000 games have been played with  at least 9 hitters (more than 1,890,00 total) getting an average of 4 at bats…that’s more than 7,560,000 at bats.

Congratulations Wil Myers on cycle #308.

Baseball truly is a field of dreams. One must dream the dream first and then it will come. It will.

An Angel

There is no mistake that Dolly is one of my many angels.

I’ve known this since that time I first ever remember hearing her voice come from the lone single rear speaker of that AM radio in the back of my mother’s white 1967 Buick as dad drove us through darkness along the back roads of Tennessee. That night we were en-route to visit mom’s family out in cotton country along the mighty Mississippi.

Dolly was singing her ‘Jolene’ that long dark night. I can remember the warmth, care and love in her voice as if it were yesterday. I’ve loved her ever since. I know to my core she loves me too. That’s just Dolly. She is pure love.

Dolly Parton, Peace Train.

Best day of my life

Yesterday sucked.

Yesterday sucked ’cause I made a mistake. My mistake was I didn’t count my blessings. I couldn’t see the forest for the damn trees.

Today will be different. It starts with choice. It starts with attitude. It starts with perspective. I get to choose my perspective and my attitude.

Today I choose to see the forest. May your day be the best as well.

Life

Life.

Living it gets busy. Living it is interesting. Living it is stressful. Living it is joyous. Living it is beauty. Living it is ugly. Living it is bliss. Living it is amazing. Living it is a gift. Living it is work. Living it is love. Living it is a protest. Living it shares. Living it takes. Living it gives. Living it is tiresome. Living it invigorates. Living it supports. Living it teaches. Living it disappoints. Living it excites. Living it is understanding. Living it is respect.

We can make life what we want. The only thing in life we can truly change is how we see things, how we react and how we choose to run with it.

I choose beauty. I choose love.