10 Years, 10 Points

It’s been 10 years since I started this blog on Thanksgiving 2005.

There has been an enormous amount posted here, but it has been published on my schedule and focused on my needs, not on making the material accessible to a casual reader.   There is no simple way to find writing on the challenges that are in their mind at any time.

For ten years, I thought I would take a moment and consolidate the 10 most important points that I have kept coming back to time and time again.  It won’t unlock the text here, but it might give an overview, a crib sheet to get a handle on what I have written.

1) Reveal, don’t conceal.  You can’t create anything as amazing as your gifts.
2) Precision is power, especially precision thinking.  Think sharp, be sharp.
3) Your feelings, your responsibility.  Their feelings, their responsibility.
4) Don’t treat others in a way you would not want to be treated.
5) Nothing happens until you listen, even to yourself.
6) Gratitude drives possibility.  Be thankful for lessons.
7) Playful is prayerful.  Opening to the unexpected is honoring the divine.
8) Defense is attack, giving is receiving.  Service.
9) People heal in their own way and their own time.  Be compassionate.
10) Love, not fear, brings growth.

I’ll go into a bit of detail about why these points are important to me.

1) Reveal, don’t conceal.  You can’t create anything as amazing as your gifts.

You are a child of the creator, with magic in you.  Sure, lots of people tried to teach you to sit still, stay quiet and follow orders, telling you that your nature was ugly and nasty, but it is in that wild nature that your biggest gifts lie.  Where you stumble, there lies your jewel.

It may be an appealing notion to create a pretty facade, a mask that meets the expectations of other people, but in the end it is your unique spark which draws people to you, which allows you to shine in the world.

Go inward and find your own strengths, then bring them out to offer your own special beauty to the world.

Cover ups are fake.  It is the real you that is lovable, even if someone told you not to believe that.

2) Precision is power, especially precision thinking.  Think sharp, be sharp.

It’s easy to be sloppy.  Anyone can do it.   It’s hard, though, to be precise, hard to achieve a level of excellence and mastery which allows what you do to show through as unique and high quality.

We co-create our lives.   Our spark may come from someplace outside of us, but turning that spark into useful flame is our job, one that demands discipline, practice and sweat.

Our mind is the tool we use to shape our lives, finding language, testing options, achieving balances, setting priorities, making choices and then choosing again.  There are is no perfection in a human life, but with work and focus we can create precision which lets us make the best of our possibilities.

When we offer precision to those around us, we offer leadership, showing a way to make better choices and work together.   Managing ourselves helps us manage in the world, lifting the possibilities of everyone.

3) Your feelings, your responsibility.  Their feelings, their responsibility.

You cannot control the feelings of other people.  That means you don’t have responsibility for them, something that can be hard to remember when they are acting out their own fears and issues against you because something you did brings up their unhealed stuff.  Their choices, even when they blame you for “causing” them are about who they are, not about you.

You do, however, have control of your own feelings.   That means you do have responsibility for how you act out of your unhealed stuff.

There is no way to manage your own feelings without owning them first.  Just walling them off, trying to stuff them, or claiming that they control you will not lead to the kind of healing you need to get clear of being controlled by your own deep seated issues.

The only way out of hell is through.  You have to face your own challenges to find ways to move past being controlled by them.  The only freedom we have is in the moment between stimulus and response, so moving to considered responses instead of knee-jerk reactions is the only way to create healthy choices which let you own your life rather than being a slave to your past.

Blaming others for the way that you feel may be easy, but just like you have no control over how they feel, they have no control over how you feel.  Sure, you may want them to change their feelings, but waiting until they change before you change is holding your potential for happiness hostage to their stuckness.

Your feelings, your responsibility.

4) Don’t treat others in a way you would not want to be treated.

When has the golden rule ever been a bad life choice?  This statement of it lies more in Jewish tradition, where the goal is not to assume what others want what you would want but to know we all hate unfairness.

Being able to accept that other people have the right and even the requirement to make choices that you would never make for yourself is the basis for treating them with respect. Supporting others when they make choices that you find odd, off-putting or queer is supporting your power to make choices for yourself that don’t please everyone.  The world is not for your taste, so only those who harm others with their choices need to be judged, not just those who push your buttons.

People find so many excuses for why others have to respect them in a way that they don’t respect others.   We use our history of suffering, our presumed moral superiority, our sense of entitlement and more to justify actions against others that we would wail about if we were treated that way.

Rationalizing why you are exceptional and therefore can make demands of others which you would reject if they were made on you is violating the golden rule.  It goes against the teachings of the Torah, of Jesus, and of almost every spiritual leader ever.

Love and respect your neighbour as yourself.  Everything else is commentary.

5) Nothing happens until you listen, even to yourself.

The greatest gift parents give children is the gift of language.  Being human is sharing in culture, and that requires the power of communication.  The better we get at communicating, the more we can master the relationships that make us human.

The most important part of communication is listening.  Listening is my sacrament, opening my mind and heart to what others are brave enough to share with me.   It is through listening that I am able to learn and grow, though listening that I am able to understand and heal, though listening that I am able to connect and share with other people.

As a transperson in a house that had little respect for emotion, I believed that the goal was to reject and deny any voices in me that challenged what others said that I should do.   Instead of listening to my heart I tried to silence it, thinking that would make me strong and good.

Until I listened to my own pain, though, moving past shame and opening with tender vulnerability, I could not find the connection between mind and heart that I needed to heal and grow as a person.

Too many people don’t really listen to others, don’t engage what is being shared, instead only hearing tones and thinking of what they want to say next.  These people lose all the magic that sharing humanity can bring.   They try to fill the world with their beliefs so they can blank out their doubts and fear and in the process, lose the heart connection that makes them human by making them responsible to other people.

Listening close allows discovering details, observing with a precision which can lead to understanding quality and excellence.  Until we can really hear and see, we cannot really transcend the mediocre.

Nothing happens until you listen, even if the noise you are making convinces you otherwise.

6) Gratitude drives possibility.  Be thankful for lessons.

Learning to be grateful for what you didn’t want or expect is hard.  Yet that feedback is the key to knowing where you are falling short, where you have missed the mark, and how you can change your choices to do better next time.

Possibility doesn’t exist in what we already know.  Possibility exists in the moments when our knowledge grows, either through serendipitous success or through frustrating failure.

Being grateful for moments when our perceptions are altered, our understanding is expanded, our knowledge increased, even when that requires disposing of an older, cherished but wrong or imprecise concept is the way we are thankful to a world that cares enough to keep teaching us how to be better.

Becoming new is the basis of becoming better.  Learning new or even being reminded of what we knew once but has slipped our mind is a real gift.

7) Playful is prayerful.  Opening to the unexpected is honoring the divine.

Prayers that tell the universe what to do to make us happen are just arrogant, pushy-bottom kind of stuff.  Asking the creator to change to suit our expectations and desires is not a prayerful approach, coming with humility and openness to find the lessons of grace which help us be more harmonious and effective in our actions.

Playfulness is coming with an attitude of exploration, the willingness to try being new in a way that brings us closer to creation.  A willingness to experiment with a laughing heart opens us to the divine surprise that reveals connections and possibilities we closed ourselves to in daily life.

Humor can help us get over the pain of separating from our callouses, the barriers we have created that we hope protect us but which isolate us from the heat and light of divine connection.  Children become new though laughter in every day of their lives, welcoming the growth the universe offers them.   Why should that process ever really stop?

8) Defense is attack, giving is receiving.  Service.

It’s easy to be too damn smart for our own good.  When you think you know it all, that you can defend your choices perfectly, that anyone who challenges you is just wrong, you close yourself off to growth and connection.

The first step to knowledge is always being ready to learn what you not only don’t know but also what you don’t yet know that you do not know.   We get back what we give in the world, so when we give curiosity, respect and support we get that back, but when we give attitude, dismissal and quick defensive rationalizations, that’s what we get back.

Getting over your own damn stuff, the defenses you carry with you, is hard.   You surrounded yourself with that stuff for good reasons.   You found it useful, it made you feel safe and comfortable to carry your own stuff around like bumpers.

That stuff, though, blocks you from being present and open to other people in the current situation.  If you just pitch in, contribute, and find a way to work together, everybody benefits, even you.

Leading with the chip on your shoulder, no matter who you blame for putting it there, doesn’t open up possibilities.  Your feelings, your responsibility.

9) People heal in their own way and their own time.  Be compassionate.

The world would be much less headache to negotiate if other people would just heal and grow in the way that we want them to and on our own time frame.  After all, we can see the problem and have offered a solution; why can’t they just get their act together and do what you tell them, right now?

Their position, though, is more complicated than you know.  After all, you have never just done what someone else told you to do to fix your life, have you?   You had to think and feel and balance and try and engage change in your own way and at your own speed.

When you look back, there are changes that you could have made sooner than you did.  Not only did the worst things you could imagine never really come to pass, but the best things that happened were ones that you never could have imagined coming to pass no matter how hard you planned for them.

Change always means engaging loss.  Change means we have to let go of bits we have always held to do things that we have not yet mastered.  Change comes with a guarantee of failure, even if that failure teaches us how to create success beyond anything we have ever known.  Change is a risk, but not changing is stagnation and decay.

Learning to engage change a little each day rather than waiting for what feel like catastrophes to demand change is hard magic.  Being prepared, though, with wit and compassion, to accept why change is resisted and to accept when change is need is the basis of healthy growth.

10) Love, not fear, brings growth.

Our fear voice likes to tell us that the best thing we can do is create walls between us and things that scare us.

The world, though, teaches that strength comes not from isolation but from connection.  It is when we stand together, when we are in the network, when we have friends, allies and family that we are most protected.

Caring deeply enough to put your own fears and concerns aside to do the right thing is another way to say courage.   Courageous choices always come from love and not fear. Courage is a core virtue; without courage, it is impossible to follow any other virtue when the going gets tough.

Love drives the best in us when it drives us to connect with community and share our gifts with others.  Love is the powerful magic that moves us beyond our own preferences and prejudices to be present for other people in a way that heals both them and us.   Love empowers us to leave our comfort zone and find a new, engaged way to be in the world.

Love is what enables to us fight for those we love and and to fight with the people we love when they need to find their own deeper truth. It’s much better to learn to fight for yourself with someone who loves you than with the wider, less caring world.

Life is better when we take care of each other.  Love is what helps us do that.

None of these points are unique.   They are just bits of the wisdom handed down by humans, the old knowledge set in my personal language.   That’s why they might resonate with you, not asking you to get your mind around something new but only recounting what you know to be true in a way that cuts through the noise of everyday life and reminds you of what has always been important.

10 Years, 10 Points.  It’s been a long and fascinating life, but to tell you the truth, I’m pretty tired now.