Facilitatress

“You better work, gurl.”
— RuPaul’s essential coaching advice

I believe in empowerment.

And the only way to empowerment that I have ever found is to work.  Nobody ever hands you power just because you whine the best.

Work gives us a way to make change, to feel pride, to develop skills, to contribute to the community, to create value.

Work is redemptive.

It matters little what kind of work it is.  It may be service to others, may be growing food, may be minimum wage shifts, may be management, may be volunteer or highly paid.

What matters is our attitude towards the work.  When we are engaged, present, taking feedback, committed to getting better, the work helps us grow.  When we resist, slough off, backtalk and are sloppy, we get almost no benefit.

Our attitude is held in our stories, in the talk we make about work, and those stories are based in our beliefs, the life-myths that hold the truths we fear and that we trust.

My role as a corporate shaman is empowerment, of individuals, of groups.   To do that I need to help them discover, verbalize and test the stories and beliefs they hold, identifying where they hold blocks to making better, more empowered choices.

Everybody holds pain, anger and even trauma in their body.    Taking our own power often feels impossible, so we instead focus on the flaws in human organizations, from profound unfairness to incessant stupidity.   Pointing out the negative, though, almost never changes anything.   Instead, change requires leading, finding positive ways to make things better.   We must become the change we wish to see in the world.

Until we can operate in the market, all we have is complaints and abjection.

I believe in the power of the market to bring together people in constructive ways. (1996)   Sure, the market can be subject to abuses, but that’s why we need the tension between social structures — government, religion, etc. — to keep them all under check.  That tension, well, it’s a very market driven concept.

The market empowers people to become better, to participate in society, gaining not only economic rewards but also rewards of pride, of growth, of enlightenment, of sharing, of connection, of personal & social value.

In short, by gaining mastery we can become professional enough not only to gain respect but also to give it.   Open minds, full of detachment, may see the big picture, but implementation takes experience and knowledge.   When we work together to value all the smarts in the room we can lift the community up.

One of the key reasons I was so effective in taking care of my parents was my experience in leading teams, working with others in respect.   Hospitals teach staff to work in teams, so when I responded as a member of the care team, I was accepted as professional, gaining shared information through shared work.

As a corporate shaman, a facilitatress, I have always been ready to coach others in doing the work that can empower them, that can help them empower others.  That is always coaching about getting better at doing work, from the work of understanding themselves to the work of becoming a team member to the work that helps them create their own art & expression.

The line between the baggage we carry and the work we need to do is always complex.   For example, one person spoke of how their family avoided conflict, but they now had a boss who was challenging them, a situation that pushed their buttons. I spoke of the importance of standing up for what you know, affirming that others know that if you won’t fight with them you won’t fight for them.   They went back to the office, stood up for themselves, which gained them respect and a much more comfortable workplace, encouraged to open up, take responsibility and more freely give the gifts of themselves.

For me, mirroring their own strength back to them, sharing similar experiences, created a connection that empowered.   As trans people, we learn to self-police, to over conceal and play safe, so getting the reflection that the strong, potent self we hold within is not just scary, it is also compelling and brilliant is vital to understand.

The way that you do anything is the way that you do anything.   For queer people, who have felt massive social pressure to conceal parts of themselves, even from ourselves, there are always huge parts of us that we strive to keep hidden.  Our feelings, our instincts, our potential, our power and more are thrown into the big, dark scary box where we never get to explore them let alone sort out the good from the mistaken and polish up our best.

Learning to do any kind of work in a more present, more authentic, more actualized, and more integrated way takes one more step to self-understanding, self-ownership and empowerment.   We can never find ourselves and develop mastery in the closet.   We not only need to see possibilities and hear other narratives, we need to feel safe enough to take the risks involved in trying the new, in testing the dreams, and seeing how we can incorporate them into a full life.

You better work, whoever you are.  Demanding comfort, a world that rises to meet you and never challenges anything you believe, is a path towards anger, separation and sadness, even if you find a few people who all agree that you all got a raw deal, that it’s their fault and you deserve better.

Working to make better choices, working to get your gifts shared, working to feel pride, working to express yourself and just working to take care of your family are crucial to make a better life for you and a better world for those you love.

I believe in empowerment.   I use encouragement, mirroring and stories to shift viewpoints to help people find, claim and express the exceptional power they possess, the power they have all too often been told is scary, ugly and has to be hidden.

And if I can’t do that, well, what am I doing in the room?

“The best way to not feel hopeless is to get up and do something. Don’t wait for good things to happen to you. If you go out and make some good things happen, you will fill the world with hope, you will fill yourself with hope.”
― Barack Obama

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Pleasantries

I’m not very good at small talk.

When you search deeply for meaning in every interaction, exchanges meant to charm or flatter or manipulate seem rather pointless to me.

One VP of Sales found me frustrating because I had no unfiltered ports.  He was used to finding a way into people by sneaking past the defences, by telling them what they wanted to hear, by chatting about something they loved, and then getting a bit of conversational leverage.

That technique didn’t work with me, though.   From a very early age my safety depended on understanding the actual meaning of what others were saying.   I couldn’t just trust them or be lulled into hearing what I longed to hear.  That was a very dangerous path, leading to blow-ups, broken dreams and emotional pain.

I’d much rather have honesty than sweetness, have truth rather than placation. Tell me what is going on, what you really think & feel, even if that isn’t sweet or nice or cute.  I can read the meaning, even in a southern belle’s ritualistically kind words as they are laced with a bit of strychnine.

Feeling like you are trying to manipulate me with some bullshit is a good way to just set me on edge, turn my crap detectors to high and make me assume that there is something you are hiding.   Those interactions make me hear the “Jaws” theme in my head, ominous cellos that warn of submerged danger.

I know that everyone doesn’t feel this way.   Being present for deep meaning all the time is just living in a world of “too much information” for them.  They like pleasantries, like assuming the easy and shallow, like repeating the same things.  To engage is to look for challenges where none need to occur.   Life is basically simple, just like people, and they already know the rules, so complicating it is just some kind of intellectual masturbation.

These people just tend to avoid me until they run across something complicated.   They marvel at how I jump in, peeling away layers and delving deeper, getting to meaning in a witty and almost magical way.   It’s all great fun until I start to look at them and their choices, at which point they decide they want to just placate me with some niceties, something that should distract me by making me feel nice, as a defence against being examined too deeply.

I grew up queer in a what always felt like a very dangerous world.   A good solid understanding of the terrain is what kept me safe, not the ability to pleasantly shoot the shit with others, spewing nice conventional wisdom that was supposed to just feed the egos of those around me.

Being transparent, honest and coherent, is one of the things that makes me a great partner.   You know where I am, what I am thinking and feeling.  I share what I see, offering situational awareness.   I am encouraging and positive, absolutely, but I know that the best thing I can do is find a constructive way to share hard won knowledge, lessons which help each of us become better and more present.

If I sense that you are concealing something, my spidey-senses go off and my trust level goes down.  I won’t feel safe sharing with you.

Worse, if I sense you are pandering to me, treating me like some kind of client, to be kept at arms length and just given pleasantries designed to feed my ego, well, I will see you as someone to be watched for danger.   The effect of trying to manipulate me is to set me on edge, heightening my defensive posture.

Many people play the social game in a conscious way, working to appear sweet and nice as much as possible.  Their theory is that you should make others feel good by giving them strokes to get them on your side if you want them to work with you.

I was once told that I could never be a good manager because I wasn’t “enough of a cheerleader” by a VP who thought manipulation was the key to success.   I was also told by a departing gal in Marketing Services the she always liked me because she thought I was honest.   She knew the clique of marketing gals thought I was a bit sour because I challenged them, but she also knew that people who worked with me understood that honesty always kept them on solid ground.

One of my key roles was in leading the technical people, the nerds in the basement.   While salespeople love a bit of  hot air — just like the VP of sales did — nerds don’t trust it.  There is an old joke about a gal in her first computer class who said “Oh, I get it!  It doesn’t do what you want it to do, it does what you tell it to do!”   No amount of sweet talk will make a program run better or more elegantly.

Being honest doesn’t mean that you don’t assist and encourage, bringing a positive can-do attitude.   I always coached to search for solutions, effective and doable ways to get done what we need to happen in a clever and elegant way.   There can be a great deal of satisfaction in finding a graceful compromise, much more than in being told everything is hunky dory when it is not.

I’m a great person to be around when you are committed to growth and healing.  When you want cheerleading, though, a boost to the ego and an affirmation of inflated dreams, well, I can be a bit of a challenge.   It’s likely this is one reason this blog isn’t a favourite of many transpeople who want their dreams inflated rather than having to engage the real challenges of living a trans life.   Those who are facing those daily choices, though, can often find some value in my deep thought.

I’m not very good at small talk.  I am on a quest for truth, honesty, authenticity, revelation, openness and actualization, which means I am on a quest for meaning not for sweet pleasantries.   That’s a lovely quest when you need to engage the questions, but rather challenging when you just want to duck them to keep your life simple and easy, staying focused on other things.

The way to connect with me is simple: listen closely, take my meaning and mirror it back with your unique vision.  That’s what I do to connect with others, modelling the best choices I know.

To me, that seems simple, but for people who are used to small talk, well, they just don’t get the joke.

Being The Grown-Up

With two Aspergers parents, I was adultified early.  They had no idea how to enter the emotional world of a child, how to engage my feelings and affirm my safety.   Instead, my family nickname became “Stupid” from at least the age of eight or nine because I was so baffling to them, appearing so contrary.

I never broke away from that caretaker role.   I took care of them until the day that they died, then wondered if anyone would take care of me.  It didn’t appear likely, so I hunkered down.

When I go into the world, I know that I have to be the grown-up.   I’m smart, sharp witted, highly perceptive, queer, fierce, born male-bodied, big and loud, and at least a bit overwhelming.  People around me expect me to enter their world, make them feel safe, help them move through it, not to have to enter my baffling and apparently contrary space.

Even in the very rare times when I am hopeful that someone will make space for me, do the work, I am most often dissapointed.   I don’t end up getting the presence, the attention, the understanding that I need.

With a lifetime of having to be the grown-up is there any surprise that when I am alone I often engage in a playful conversation between my sad & needy child and their caretaker?   The voices surface an inner tension, allowing me to explore and vent what has been so very long denied.

I resist taking on social responsibility because I know it will force me to be the grown-up without any place to be the kid, to feel and honour my own feelings and needs.

Now, after a lifetime of practice, I am very damn good at being the grown up.   People see that, I know, and so they cede power to me, hoping that I will take responsibility which will allow them to ride along, being confident I will understand, respect and honour their viewpoint and their feelings.

After all, I have learned to wrap honesty in humour, surfacing truth in a constructive way, while that’s something that not only haven’t they practised, but is also something that scares them.   Engaging in conflict may make them uncomfortable, unlikable and upset, hurting their own feelings.

In any choice between engaging the feelings they keep hidden and letting the grown-up do the work, well, you know what the outcome is bound to be.

I do know how to be the grown up.   I don’t mind doing the work.  It’s just that afterwards I want to be able to go home, kick off my heels and be somebody’s girlfriend, somebody’s girl.

That has never proven to be an option for me.

Part of this, of course, is my own weakness in knowing how to play that role.  I never got the training and affirmation to master the role for many reasons, not the least of which is how others saw me.

There is no place, though, no service that can help me learn at an advanced and queer age.

“I have been learning how to trust myself,” I once told a partner, “but I need to learn how to trust other people.”

“Can’t you do that on your own?” she replied.

It reminded me of the line from Woody Allen’s “Love And Death,” where a woman tells him that he is very good in bed.

“I practice a lot on my own,” he replies.

It doesn’t work that way, of course, which is why the line gets a laugh.

I know how to be the grown-up.   Being the kid, though, is not something I can do.   Learning to relax, to trust, to surrender is very hard for someone who had to learn smart defences from an obscenely young age.   Even doing a very good job at that doesn’t mean those needs & desires still exist.

If I want to be more present, I need to be willing to be the grown-up.   That willingness has to be based on my ability to take care of myself afterwards, processing what feel like slights, insults, amateur demands for indulgence, and other frustrating bits.

People heal & grow in their own time and in their own way, I know, and as any good mother understands, that means you have to meet kids (and all other people) where they are, not where you want them (or even need them) to be.

There are significant benefits to being grown up, to taking responsibility, to building structures.   These benefits can provide space and support for a fulfilling life with opportunities of connection.   I know this, I teach this.

Acting on it, though, can be tough, especially when I am just trying to serve myself and not take care of someone else.  I know how hard the work is, know the cost, understand the limited benefits.

Living in a country where even the elected leaders don’t want to be the grown-up, acting professionally, and instead throw fits, spin out insults and work to create separations that dehumanize does not embiggen a noble spirit to rise above the fray, acting with grace even as others strike out.

I have been the grown-up as a service, enacting the concierge to care for others.

Feeling cared for myself, though, has always been a harder challenge.

And I don’t really see any good way to get help with that.

Annealed

We are tempered and strengthened by our struggles.

In the time when we learned by apprenticing, this was an acknowledged truth.  Masters made us suffer in ways that they had experienced to deepen the learning experience as we traded labour for mastery.

Today, though, lots of us look for the shortcuts, the quick and easy way to get status.   After all, can’t we just learn anything we need by watching a quick YouTube video?

When we create our own curriculum, we tend to focus on the parts that interest and engage us, skipping over the bits which seem tedious, dull and difficult.   We want to get onto the fancy, fun stuff.

Masters know, though, that it is having control of the details is always the basis of excellence.   The legendary Jacques Pepin asks novice chefs to cook a plate of chicken for him.   The good ones cook plain chicken perfectly, owning the technique, but the wannabes try to do it their own way, with sauce or stuffing that they saw on TV once.

Pepin came up in the harsh apprentice system for cooks in 1940s France so he knows about doing the crappy parts over and over again until you have the discipline to move to the next step.

I understand why we don’t want the next generation to have to suffer like we did, facing stigma and denial, but I also understand that it will be the struggle they choose to enter, the hard work they take on, the tough journey they follow, which will, in the end, shape their success, revealing the gifts they bring to our shared world.

Choosing to avoid struggle is choosing to avoid excellence.   Staying comfortable is staying mediocre.

Explaining the bliss and blessing of struggle to someone who wants to believe that just picking and choosing the good bits of life, flipping the channel, is the a good way to get what they think they want is very difficult.   Education is what we get when we don’t get what we want.   If all we learn is to back off or switch over, rather than to learn and persist until we gain a bit of mastery, well, we don’t really grow from the experiences offered.

My life has been my struggles, and while I know they don’t sound like fun to go through, I am very aware the the gifts I have gained came from engaging them, from surrendering to the moment, from learning the hard way rather than just complaining I wasn’t getting what I wanted, what I deserved, what I was entitled to.

Being ready to affirm someone who is trying hard but suffering a bit is easy for me, usually through making them laugh when they see their challenges in context, remembering both their goal and how far they have come.   Doing the same to someone who is just whining about how hard the world is, how they suffer because others won’t make things easy for them, usually makes them a bit miffed at my viewpoint.

Life isn’t fair.   We each face challenges, from the mass to the minute, from the political to the personal.   Still, it is only how we play the hand that we are dealt that we have any control over.   Do we make the most of whatever we have, living with grace and presence?

We know our own struggles intimately.   They shape our life-myths and the choices that we make everyday.

Knowing the struggles of others, though, is much more difficult.  It takes listening, presence and engagement, entering their narrative with empathy to see the world through the experience of their eyes.

If we hold too closely to our own struggle as being paramount, we won’t be able to see the connections between us, won’t be able to gain a wider context, won’t be able to learn the lessons others can offer us.

Looking at others with envy can lead us to diminish or ignore the struggle others endured to have what they have and get where they are.   Often we just wonder how they got lucky, getting what we wanted and deserve, while we still feel mired in our own struggle.   We become triggered, angry and resentful which are not emotions that help us do our work of engaging our own personal struggles.

It is often hard to hear when others talk about their own struggles, the challenges that they have had to face to become better, more whole, more authentic, more integrated and more actualized people, especially if we have been resisting engaging our own struggle.    Instead, we may look to those who seem to have had an easy ride, like young, attractive people, and wish that our life was just like theirs.

When a rabbi noted that the salty water in a ritual represented tears, I asked her why it didn’t also represent sweat.  Isn’t perspiration the mark of the hard work we have to do in the face of struggle, not just respecting the suffering but also the bold and beautiful struggle so many had to make to transcend the barriers in their way?

Human lives have always included struggle.  We all knew that until we started living in a modern world where everything was supposed to be neat, clean and easy.  Living by avoiding the hard and uncomfortable bits just wasn’t possible.  Even today most in the world do not have the luxury & privilege to imagine that they and their loved ones can ever avoid struggle.

Until we can engage, honour and respect the struggle which anneals humans, bringing out the strength & resilience which brings success, we will keep looking for sweet stories about shortcuts and divine interventions rather than understanding our responsibility to co-create our life, to shape it with the pain, sweat and learning which helps us make better choices.

Go out there and struggle.  Push to move beyond your limits, your comfort zone, work to find a way around the blocks in your path, find the courage, grace and strength to become new and better.   As you understand your own struggles you will better be able to connect with the struggles of others, finding knowledge and bonding in shared strife.

Struggle is at the base of everything valuable, transformative and annealing. A Life is never as satisfying when your struggle it gets you what you need, even if you could not imagine that before you started.    Choosing to avoid struggle is choosing to avoid excellence.   Staying comfortable is staying mediocre.

My struggles have shaped me, even as they demanded I do the hard, the uncomfortable and the painful.   I value that truth.

Can you?

Play Resistant

If you are not willing to be playful, you are not able to grow, to heal or to form resilient and deep connections with other people.

Kids build identity by play exploration, so why don’t earnest and resistant understand and engage that process?

Being playful demands leaving the comfort of your own rigid expectations, assumptions, beliefs and rules to be present, flexible and ready to try something new.   You can’t play if you aren’t willing to take a bit of a tumble, laughing and trying again to make a hit, pop a joke or create a moment.

For those who wear their armour heavily, this playfulness often feels like an insult to their worldview, a kind of frivolity that doesn’t respect the burdens they have chosen to assume, the strictures they have learned to assert.

Staying fixed in your own identity props and resisting play that requires you to lighten up may keep you in your comfort zone, but it doesn’t move you along in your journey to new, unknown and potent.   Kids know that they are on a journey, know that they have lots of possibilities ahead of them which will require lots of learning, lots of new skills and lots of playful exploration to get them to a better, more mature and more whole place.

Stopping your journey can happen for many reasons.   You may be afraid of losing what you have now, may be afraid of the challenges ahead, may be afraid of failing, may be afraid of having to face your own fears.

Did you notice a pattern in that last paragraph?   Change is always scary — after all, we can never know the future — but kids know (and pray) that it is inevitable.  Seasons pass and so do we, moving through the cycles & stages of a human life.   The only alternative I know is to just declare “game over.”

When we resist change, resisting the play that comes with it, it becomes easy to diminish or bad-mouth others who are doing the kind of thing we have decided that we don’t need to do.   Sometimes we just can’t see the value in their playful, explorative choices and sometimes we actually see their choices as destructive, challenging and scary.

Knowing what we don’t want to be, the places we don’t want to go, the ways we don’t want to be seen often seems much simpler than knowing who we actually are.   To know ourselves we have to be willing to swing the pendulum wide in a playful way, finding places where our heart naturally comes to rest.   Going past the point of balance is the only way to know that we have come far enough to identify our own centre.

As a writer, I know how much play is involved in learning to express ourselves.   We try on different attitudes, different looks and different voices to find what works for us.   A bit of this, a touch of that, a swipe of something else and after much experimentation we find our own personal way of expressing ourselves in the world.

Knowing my own “Jonathan Winters” gift of speaking in characters from even before I knew my own trans heart, much of my play was speaking in other tongues.   By taking a position I could speak from another point of view, a tool which not only allowed me to explore parody but also gave me a compassionate understanding of what our shared world looked like from other, very different viewpoints.

My expression is still playful, offering sly reflections on what others share, listening close and mirroring them in a way which allows them to see themselves more clearly, allows them to reshape their choices.  As Bessel van der Kolk notes, effective mirroring is a key to growth and healing beyond trauma.

Those on a journey tend to enjoy and value my playful exchanges, but those who are resisting change usually find me annoying.   They know that I am wrong, but they can’t express what is right, as they haven’t done the positive excavation work to claim their own beliefs and understandings.

No one thinks they are against play and exploration.   For example, they see it in young people and it warms their heart, even as they resist the call to the kind of playful exploration which can get them spattered with pizza and looking silly.   Those who resist play always have prepared good reasons for keeping their defences up, for pushing away jibes and winks, for armouring up their own identity.

For me, queer spaces are places where play is supported, venues that don’t try to teach the right way to be but rather offer delight in the different, the bold, the brave and the witty.  Good play creates laughter, and laughter is the only effective social lubricant, breaking down the barriers we think protect our dignity to reveal our continuous common humanity.

Kids understand the powerful connective nature of play.   When they meet other kids, they want to play with them, sharing their games, their skills and their knowledge, creating bonds of exploration & growth.

The gang that plays together stays together.  That’s even true when much of play is fighting, the kind of fighting that challenges skills, testing us to develop discipline, power and grace.   Kids have always fought between themselves as a form of play, learning to fight fair and fight fun, to get better and more clear about how to succeed in the fights we will have in the future.  Conflict as a creative exercise is an essential form of play to gain mastery, as any tiger cub will be happy to demonstrate.

Resisting play is resisting that process which opens us up, showing us where growth is needed, where development is required.  It is resisting the gifts that play can bring us, including new knowledge of ourselves, including knowledge of our current limits & weaknesses, and understanding of new ways we can connect and bond with others.

“I’ll play with you.” Isn’t that what most kids want to hear, knowing the gifts and joys that come with play,  the growth, the awareness, the presence and the bonding?

Resisting play, staying defended in our own current armour, not only denies us those precious gifts, it also attempts to diminish others who are committed to the growth that comes with play.   That, I suspect, is not only an insult not only to the journey that others are on,  it is a denial of our own human journey.

God Loves My Ego

The blessings of the one true and ultimate God is that he wants you to be as successful as you can dream of being, having all the joys and luxuries that you are entitled to as his child.

This is the essence of the prosperity gospel, an occult blending of Christian words and success ideas, which venerates the ego as the centre of service to God.  The resources of the earth are yours to use in creating tributes to His glory and wealth for his individual followers, which means the ones who make the most are not only the winners, they are the holiest followers of God, the people we should model ourselves after.

As one who learned to practice æsthetic denial, the suppression of the ego in favour of service, mostly concierge service, this indulgence of the ego as offering the true calling of God is not easy for me, even if there are massive numbers who call themselves Christian and believe in the “laws of attraction,” that an active God is just waiting to help those who help themselves, delivering all that one can desire.

I was lead to be a teachy preacher, looking within to identify and remove the blocks I hold to God, no matter how uncomfortable going deep and dropping my defences is, rather than a preachy preacher, venerating exceptionalism and entitlement for those who bring wealth to the chosen ones by succeeding at any cost for the glory of their personal God.

As I look to being more present in the world, considering my relationship with creator is important.   Does God love my ego?   Did she give it to me to have the force to cut a place in society, or did I create it to protect myself from discomfort, wrapping my soul in the armour of control?   Is surrendering to ego visions a way to do divine service, or is it just me playing fast and loose to get what I think I desire?

If only the ego immersed make big creations in this world, then how will the challenge of smart, humble, considered presence ever make a place, become a balance?

Persistence is the key to success in the world.   It really doesn’t matter if you get knocked down twenty times as long as you knock down the other guy on the twenty first.   Salespeople of my acquaintance claim to like hearing someone say “No” because that only brings them closer to the person who will say “Yes!”

Resilience is the basis of persistence, the ability to bounce back after taking a blow.   If you see God as being on your side, see your work as divinely inspired, worshipping in a fraternity of others who focus on blessings of success, then it becomes easier to go back into the fray once more.

Now, it also becomes easier to decide that the ends justify the means, that your special relationship with God allows you to do whatever is needed to accomplish your ends, no matter how many false believers you take down or social laws you break, but that is another issue.   Just believing that you carry an exceptional personal blessing, that you are on a divine mission from God, doesn’t mean you have to be an asshole, but it does help.

It is the essence of resilience which leads to persistence that calls me.   Is now the time to get out there and go for it, fighting hard to make a successful place for me? Is my experience of getting knocked back by so many people for my scary ideas something that I need to move beyond by trusting that my ego is in service of God, no matter what flack or how little social support that I get?

Have I tempered my ego enough that I can trust it, even if I still get squicked by people who just come from the place that whatever their ego calls them to do is a direct call from a God who wants them to achieve success and comfort in this realm?   Does affirming the calls of my ego mean that I have to affirm the calls that they hear from their egos, need to support their law of attraction, prosperity gospel belief structures?

That which is hateful to you do not do to your neighbour.   If I want to trust my own callings, is it okay to call their callings ungodly?  Or is this the key to trusting the ego, being willing to fight not only for what you believe to be right but also to fight against what you understand to be wrong?

I know that to be bolder and more persistent in making a place for myself in the world I need to have more resilience that will increase my persistence.   I also know that I am highly unlikely to find a group or even individuals who are ready to encourage me not only to do what I fear because it challenges my comfort but also to do what they fear because it challenges their comfort.

Playing small to not threaten others, like my remaining family member, though, is clearly not helping me grow, helping me get what I need, allowing me to help more in the wider world by being boldly present even when that presence draws isolation and brickbats.

Does God love my ego?   Is it a gift which allows me to assert my unique gifts in the world even when I get resistance or flak?

How can we be empowered to create the change by becoming the people we need to be unless we trust our desires, even the desires that come from what might be called ego?   Manifesting our spirit in the flesh demands believing in our dreams enough to work to achieve them, learning courage, serenity and wisdom along the way.   Those who resist plunging into uncomfortable change just end up envious and bitter, striking out to defend their own choice to stay safe.

I need the healing that brings resilience which in turn underlies the persistence which supports making dreams come true.    Solace, I suspect, comes from the belief that God is in our desires, that the ego which drives individuation and creation is threaded with divine inspiration.

No matter how many times I see those who seem to miss the mark, claiming the exceptional holiness of drives to separate and dehumanize, aggrandizing in the name of their lord, that doesn’t mean all ego is corrupt.

If God loves me, she loves my ego.   My dreams are inspired and tested, so as long as I don’t lose my balance too much, I can trust my Eros too, coming home after getting hit to pray for those who attacked me and be ready to go out again tomorrow to keep fighting the good fight.

Asserting my dreams in the world, even when it feels everyone is trying to silence me?   Isn’t that a good thing?

Queer Up The Joint

I’m okay until I open my mouth.

It’s then that the queer comes out.

No matter how much I try to look cute and little and whatever, my big voice spills out of my mouth and then I tend to queer up the joint.

Is that a bad thing?

Well, when you are with your family, the ones who easily get embarrassed by your actions, or in a store where someone might not understand or might be offended it is not exactly a good thing.   Queering up the joint can have lasting consequences.

There are times, though, that queering serves a vital purpose.   It can offer cover to those who have something to say but fear it might be too odd, too sharp, too queer.   It can open the minds and hearts of people by letting them get a glimpse from another, queerer viewpoint.   And it can start the process of healing by offering the group a new way to respond, one that values unique individual contributions rather than expecting conformity and compliance.

Queer affirms questions, queer values complexity.  Queer speaks to connections rather than separations, searching for continuous common humanity.

When I open my mouth and queer comes out, some people really like it.   They want to be freed from norms, want to be challenged to take responsibility for their own choices, want to feel affirmation to be more profoundly and authentically themselves.  They feel liberated and joyful that the room is all queered up.

Affirming their unique humanity feels liberating to them, even in the midst of many people who want to keep things nice and neat “for the kids.”

People sense that I spout a very well tempered queer voice, shaped by long experience in communicating with non-neurotypical people and guided by a strong belief in the group process that underlies effective corporate solutions.   After a lifetime of consuming stories, many, many viewpoints have given me a wider view, offering possibilities, insight, and comfort with many choices that I would never make for myself.

Bringing out the best in those I engage is the most effective thing I can do, empowering their voices rather than trying to fill the space with my own words.  As a hostess, a concierge, I open gateways to exploration & transcendence, holding the liminal space where connections transform us by offering the miracle of seeing anew, offering a divine surprise.

Each of us has to balance our tame assimilation and wild individuality, finding a way to be both compliant and queer in a powerful mix.  Breaking the norms, resetting the boundaries is vital, as is creating new norms, building resilient social structures with new respect and inclusiveness.   This is the challenge of working corporately, using marketing to build effective organizations, products and services.

My polish may make people who are ready for queer find me more engaging, but it also makes people who are not ready find me much, much more annoying.   Resisting change and healing, holding onto separation, be that identity politics or fundamentalism, demands you resist what I share, declining what I offer by rejecting my gifts.

Projecting your own needs and fears onto me, be that the desire for shortcuts to comfort or the pain of your own inner denial can leave me bruised, battered and isolated.    It turns out that queering up the place may be useful, even compelling, but it is a quite lonely job.  You can’t be present and human, trusting in the possibility of transformation without being powerfully ware of your own fragility.

Still, someone has to speak queer, standing against pressure towards norms, making the hidden transparent, illuminating the invisible.   If no one goes beyond the obvious & expected, looking to deep process and meta connection, how will we ever hold the grace of what lies within human possibility?

I open my mouth and queer comes out.    That’s nothing new for me; my sister will be happy to testify that I have been speaking this way from a very early age, bringing on abuse from my parents and challenge in the schools.   I have always needed a kind of x-ray vision, seeing beyond the surface, understanding what moves beneath, crossing through walls to collect data.

This viewpoint allows me to listen clearly and reflect what others offer, making meaning from their communication, mirroring them and offering useful comments & suggestions.  Feeling seen and understood, in turn, lets people move beyond their own comfort level, dropping defences and being more present, more engaged, more vibrant, which is a feeling that some love and that scares the shit out of others.

That viewpoint, though, also makes me more of an observer than a participant, a chronicler and supporter more than being a player.    While I can understand and enter the worlds of others, few have the deep queer experience to enter my world, to be safe space for my trauma, to be present as cohorts rather than audience.  Leadership, with all the costs of that service to others, is always the result.  I’d rather be respected than liked, but on some level I also want to be pretty and loved, having someone who can take care of me as I take care of them.

This isolation, of course, is why I have resisted opening my mouth, trying to just let tiny bits of queer out when I think they might help, rather than showing up bright, bold and ready to queer the room.   I know that whatever recovery I need I will have to do alone.

Opening my mouth, though, and queering up the joint seems to hold possibility, both for community and for myself.

After all, I’m probably good at queer for a reason.   A dammed reason.