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Do You Hear Voices?

By: Karen J. Allen
Co-Publisher, On the Gay Horizon 

I was so proud of myself that I was starting the laundry and it wasn't anywhere near midnight on Sunday! Then, as I was reaching for the fabric softener, I realized that the bottles were out of order. No, I'm not Monk. I'm not that anal or obsessive and my surroundings lean toward disheveled on a fairly regular basis. But I have my own internal order barometer and I like for things to be where I expect them to be. The detergent is supposed to be first in line, followed by the fabric softener. Then comes the stuff you squirt on stains and, last, the Woolite which you are supposed to use to take care of better clothes and I don't think has been opened since my partner died.

So, no big deal, right? Well, not until I was rearranging them, remembered I hadn't put the fabric softener in its little compartment for the current load of laundry and promptly poured it in. But it was the detergent that was in my hand. Rats! Raced off to get the turkey baster (not the first time I've done this) and as I'm frantically trying to empty the detergent before the machine kicks into spin (yes, I could have stopped it but where's the challenge or drama in that?) the "voices" start.

First, I briefly hear Ann-Marie telling me I shouldn't be using fabric softener in the first place. Something about it not being good for your skin. But that is quickly drowned out by "what are you doing with my turkey baster?!?!?" Sigh.... I always thought living alone would be quieter.

But, then a funny thing happened. I heard myself asking "when does it get to be my turkey baster?"

Pause. A kind of mental ducking. Hmm....no lightening bolts. The world didn't come to an end. I didn't even feel terribly guilty. In fact, I could almost imagine that I heard the faintest of whispers "it's about time!"

Losing someone as significant as my partner was to me is more than devastatingly painful --- it's also very complicated. I'm beginning to realize that one of the stages that they don't tell you so much about is that not only do they leave you but somehow, some way, you have to leave them. Because you may be physically alone but you are left with all of the behavior patterns and unrealized hopes and dreams of that relationship. Moving on, letting go, can seem very disloyal and can be downright scary. It's a lot easier to just keep on listening to the old scripts.

But it isn't just those of us going through the grieving process who have those voices monitoring our behavior and telling us what to do. Everybody has them. We hear our partners, our parents, our friends. We hear the moralistic judgments of society. Our thoughts, opinions and beliefs are shaped for us when we are children. We may question, dismiss, even revolt against our upbringing but we rarely escape its influence.

As a community, we learned to define ourselves from the silence. The voices that constantly whispered to us taught us that the only way to survive was to hide, blend in, deny who we were. I'm pretty hopeful that future generations will have the freedom to grow up with just the normal array of dysfunctions but not be saddled with what we carried with us.  What we still carry, to one degree or another.

Right now, as a nation, we are reacting to this extremely pervasive "voice" telling us that we are on the brink of economic disaster. Everywhere you turn, fear is being projected and reinforced. I found myself thinking about that story where the hobo starts with nothing but a rock that he's supposedly boiling to make soup. By embellishing the potential of this soon-to-be-wonderful soup, he has everyone wanting to participate so they add all the ingredients that do, in fact, create a great pot of soup.

But in the beginning it was just a rock.  And, in the beginning, it was a real estate bubble and some unscrupulous business practices. It isn't easy to go against this tidal wave of fear and panic. So many clamoring voices, each trying to out-do the others, are hard to ignore. Whatever it was when it started, it's become very real for a lot of people --- people who are losing their jobs and their homes. But I like the attitude of the woman who said "I refuse to participate in this recession!"

We may not always be able to tune out the voices of fear but it is our choice how we respond. Perfect example is Ann-Marie's new fitness studio. For months, she did a lot of soul searching and was seriously tempted to hold off on opening because of the economic climate. But she has two exceptionally bright daughters and she wants them to be able to go to college wherever they want. Tuition at places like Harvard is pretty steep but there's a good chance this new studio is going to pay for it.

I've been so impressed with how she just kept moving forward, one step at a time. Lots of days the voices in her head were telling her "it's the wrong time", "it will be impossible to succeed in this economy", "be smart and play it safe".  So far, things are going great and I'm confident her studio is going to be very successful. But, even if it's not, she has already taught her kids a lesson far more valuable than anything they will ever get in school. One of the voices they will carry with them is their mom's telling them that if they believe in themselves and don't give in to fear they can do anything.

As we get older, we run full force into an onslaught of conventional thought about how we're supposed to act and what we can and can't do. If we listen to those voices we'll all soon be stocking up on BenGay and pricing those scooters that fill the aisles at the grocery store. I know I have to stick my fingers in my ears sometimes as I try not to pay attention to "you're too old to start all over", "it's too overwhelming to move across the country and try to find a new job at this age", "it will be scary to grow old alone and you have friends here".  

So, I was thrilled to get our first story, submitted by one of our readers, which puts all of this in exactly the perfect perspective. Do yourself a favor and check out " Live Like I'm 80". I can't think of a better way to approach this next part of our journey!  


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What's Your Story.....

Hurray! We've posted our first story from a OTGH reader on the website! We loved it and can't wait to read yours ---send it to us at admin@onthegayhorizon.com.


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Finding Balance

Fit in a Year - Week 11

By: Ann-Marie Giglio
Co-Publisher, On the Gay Horizon

I've started a new business. Two, actually --- one fitness, one writing. And I need to find balance. Luckily, I've been forced to think about them both for months. And I'm beginning to see the light.

Seems that running on a regular basis is what keeps my bulbs lit. My brain really needs the regular movement, and my body needs to move through space, away from the chair I sit in to write. I really cherish my outdoor time. It's time to gather energy from my surroundings, to stimulate my brain as it processes the new sights, sounds, smells --- even the feel of wind in my face --- and most of all, it brings me a block of time to feel like I'm getting somewhere.

The physical movement forward balances my sedentary lack of movement. The multi-sensory input balances my otherwise strictly visual world. The connection to the world outside balances the life inside my head.

If you're serious about your fitness goals, you will need to find a way to balance the different aspects of your own life.

That's it for now.

Gotta run.


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