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What Are You Leaving Behind?

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

"Honey, why did you tie all of our cables and cords into knots? Did you think they were going to try and escape???"

"And these hinges --- you took them when we moved, didn't you? Did you think this house would come with doors just leaning up against the walls?"

So, okay, I was the only one in the room when I was muttering those questions last weekend. But if I closed my eyes, I could see that little smile. And I could hear "Just deal with it, kjzee." That's pretty much how it always played out. Of course, it's different now. I still have to "deal" with the knots and the boxes and containers of odd stuff, but I sure do miss the hugs I used to get as a reward.

I'm in the midst of the dreadful task of going through everything prior to moving. Not really my thing! A nearly impossible undertaking for me without direct supervision and monitoring. But it's made me think about not just how much we accumulate, but what we leave behind. 

I've made trip after trip to "second start" and other service organizations, given away truck loads and lined the curb with stuff that people stopped and snatched. And it feels like I've barely made a dent. Not to mention all of my partner's personal things. Pictures, letters, files --- journals! Have you ever thought about what happens to those things that you consider private? If you got hit by a truck today, what would they find when they went through all your stuff? Almost enough to make you listen to Ann-Marie and stay healthy!

Who we leave everything to is a whole other issue for gay baby boomers. The younger members of our community have started having and adopting children but that wasn't an easy option for us. There won't be anyone bickering over my Winnie the Pooh musical skating rink or my collection of Oaxacan woodcarvings or even my anniversary cap from Disney World --- "Peace, Love and Mickey Mouse".

But those things aren't really important. So much accumulation is a pain and some days I am tempted to just give the keys to the bank and walk away from it all. But my cats always vote "no" to living in cardboard under a bridge so I keep plowing along.

What we leave behind that is important, though, can't be stored in boxes and Rubbermaid tubs. I was reminded of that this week when I got an email from a stranger asking if the Melinda Bravo I write about is the same as the one he knew over 25 years ago. He wrote "...on many levels, she saved my life back then."

Read something like that on your Blackberry in the middle of a meeting! One of those smile through the tears moments.

When I get in a bad place and I'm feeling sorry for myself, I often take some syrupy homily and rant on how ridiculous it is. I was putting "it's better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all" through this little exercise recently. I will spare you the specifics. But after getting that email it occurred to me that love, genuine love, can never be lost. It's the one thing of value that is always left behind.

What are you "leaving behind"?

I had lunch today with a friend from Columbia. Life has been going pretty well for him and he realized that he wanted to do something to "give back". So he's volunteering his time to develop a program to teach English to janitorial workers in Houston. Someone else I know picks up stray cats by the litter until she can find them homes. Recently, she discovered an elderly woman, confused, alone and cold, standing outside at a service station. So, she took her home until she could notify the authorities. And I just learned that Ann-Marie is volunteering with Lifelong Fitness Alliance, helping people make healthy changes in their lives.

Charities and other non-profit organizations are reporting a decline in donations. But people want to help so they are also experiencing a marked increase in volunteers. Earlier this week, President Obama signed into law the "Serve America Act", the largest expansion of national and community service since JFK created the Peace Corps.

 "We need your service, right now, at this moment in history. I'm not going to tell you what your role should be; that's for you to discover. But I am asking you to stand up and play your part. I am asking you to help change history's course."         President Barack Obama, 4/21/09

I was not a fan of the Bush administration's funneling tax dollars to faith-based organizations. We all know why.  But a whole new era of people helping people? Taking another stab at "ask not what your country can do for you....." and maybe keeping it going this time?

Oh, yeah!

Serve America


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Walk the Talk

Something else we can do to take action--to really walk the talk--is to sign up or pledge dollars to anyone walking in this year's AIDS walks around the country. 

As you know, Karen and I will be walking AIDSWALK NY on May 17.  Please consider joining us--it's a fabulous walk through Central Park and the Upper West Side (though personally, I think we should walk on Madison or Fifth Avenue from 59th Street to 90th....)  not to mention all those martinis the night before and the evening of, but I digress....

They say it's 10K, but honestly, we didn't notice.  Well, we did at the finish line when it started to drizzle and we had to walk another half hour to meet up with our friends.  But again, I digress.  Anyone who walks with us gets a free ChiWalking workshop, a $90 value! 

Let me tell you, there's nothing like a walk in the park with 55,000 of your best friends.  Talk about family...this year, I intend to meet Kenneth Cole.  Look for our photogs on the AIDSWALKNY website and in our newsletter the following week.  Again, I digress.  

If you--or any of your NY friends--can't join us, please lend us your support at Team On the Gay Horizon.  We are walking again in memory of and to honor Melinda and her 20 years of work with AIDS patients. 


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The Flour Formerly Known as Wheat

Fit in a Year - Week 17

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

Reprieve-- no math this week. Well, a little--just a look at proportions. 

Since we're reading the ingredient list looking for trans-fats, let's stay there this week.  Notice the list of ingredients on anything you intend to put into your body.  Ingredients are listed here in order of quantity, and the order is descending.  So the first thing on the list is the largest quantity of the ingredients.  That may mean the little cracker you want to eat with your cheese is made mostly of sugar or white flour. 

Speaking of flour, if it says "wheat flour" that is not the same as "whole wheat flour."  The simple "wheat flour"--which companies are eager to promote--is actually white, refined, nutrition-deficient powder that's at the root of many illnesses.  It should say "formerly wheat flour."  It delivers calories, but not much else. 

So what you want to look for is "whole wheat" or some other whole grain ingredient.  This single word--whole--is what provides the actual nutrition.  It means you're eating the husk and all the micronutrients that the plant worked so hard to create.  If it's not "whole" wheat, it's wheat's ghost, which like any poltergeist, looks like something but is actually nothing.  And another one of the things you're missing with ghost wheat is fiber.  We'll talk more about that in the coming weeks. 

Next week:  percentages!


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