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Why Aren't Those Socks Smiling?

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

"Why aren't those socks smiling?"


"Do you also have a problem with your hearing? Why aren't those socks smiling, Private?"

"Because....they're such an ugly green?"

"Excuse me, what did you say?"

"Because they're such an ugly green, Drill Sergeant?"

Sigh. Not the most auspicious way to begin my first inspection in boot camp. My drill sergeant was not amused. Well, I always thought she really was. After the insanity of boot camp was over, we kept in touch for awhile, but I could never get her to admit that she thought the "ugly green" crack was funny.

That entire inspection was a disaster. And that is so not how I approach those kinds of things. But, my last name is Allen, and everything in the military is done in alphabetical order. That's great on payday but the pits when it was time for KP. My little group was sent off into the night to spend about 18 hours doing kitchen duty on the day our platoon received all the instructions about how everything was supposed to be done.

Those instructions included how to make your socks smile and how far apart your hangers were supposed to be. There were demonstrations on making your bed so that a quarter would bounce off of it, how to get combat boots to shine and all of the other ridiculous things that the military does to make you crazy --- or supposedly turn you into a soldier --- whichever comes first. We missed it all.

Doesn't sound fair? Didn't to me either but fair is not a concept recognized by the military. Everything is a team effort. If one individual is lacking something then the team is responsible for making sure that they get whatever is needed. And they did try.

I soon learned the fine art of smiling socks and that I would never be able to sleep in my bed again. Nobody had time to go through all it took to get those blankets tight enough to bounce coins and to iron pillow cases every morning. When we did find a couple hours to sleep, it wasn't on our beds --- it was under them.

But no matter what, I always felt like I was playing catch up. That everybody else knew something that I didn't. Not the first time I'd felt like I'd missed getting the instruction manual. Life has seemed that way from the beginning.

I initially attributed feeling like I'd been mistakenly dropped off on the wrong planet to being gay. But I soon realized that it's the same for everyone. We usually try to hide it, but most of us feel like we were napping through class. We enter new phases of our lives with considerable trepidation because we don't know what to expect. It might be a new job or the fear of losing the one we have. A new relationship or the loss of one we're not sure we can survive without. Caring for a child or for an aging parent.  Being expected to know what to do --- to have the answers.

Coming face to face with the inescapable fact that we're getting older and retirement years are bearing down on us, whether we are ready for them or not, can result in that same panicky, unready feeling.

Are you ready? Can you be ready for something you have never experienced before?

For me and my partner, making our next move always involved more dreaming than planning. But that was pretty much the way we did things. If we could move past the distractions and manage to focus --- get our vision of something to match --- then we could almost always make it happen. We were a great team. I'd start the process --- "Let's move to Maine."  "San Francisco!" "This government sucks --- we're going to Canada!" "I wanna live in Disney World." "Teach me Spanish so we can move to Mexico." Then she would get a "feeling" about the right place and next thing you know I'd be on board for Santa Fe. Honestly, it didn't really matter to me --- I'd have been happy in Topeka if she was there.

The vision part was her baby. She was just really good at that kind of thing. But then it was my turn. Give me a destination and I could figure out all the steps to get us there. I loved the planning --- working out all the details. For me, the journey truly is as exciting as the destination. Which I suppose explains why as soon as I get anywhere I'm ready to start planning the next move!    

Would we have been able to create a comfortable, fulfilling retirement for ourselves that way? I think so --- but we'll never know. What I do know is that particular approach left me with a broken model. I only learned my role and now I'm having to play both parts. And, once again, it feels like I'm missing the page with the instructions.

But, I'm learning. I'm fairly confident I'll get there. But what about you? Have you been planning how you want to spend the next stage of the journey?

Do you see a clear demarcation between your current lifestyle and how you want to spend your retirement years, or does it look like just more of the same to you?

Obviously, this is a conversation in progress. My only purpose in bringing it up today (other than trying to find a way to work in that smiling sock story) is to get you to start thinking. Life doesn't stop and wait for us to be caught up. We probably won't ever have all the answers we need or would like, but I think it puts us a little farther ahead if we've at least posed the questions.

So, I'll leave you with that and one of my favorite quotes by Robert Frost......

"In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life: it goes on."


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I learned a lot in the military. Priceless gems --- like what an idiot I was to ever land myself there in the first place! But, they were right about it being a team sport. The only way to survive in the military --- or in life --- is by working together. Since we're all heading into this next stage without any prior experience, it seems to me that we could benefit by sharing what we learn. We'll keep you posted on our efforts and would love for you to do the same.  Just write to us at admin@onthegayhorizon.com .

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June 2009 - Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month 

"NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim June 2009 as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month. I call upon the people of the United States to turn back discrimination and prejudice everywhere it exists..."

I know. We're all supposed to be mad at the President because he hasn't fixed the economy, passed universal health care, revolutionized our educational system, balanced the budget, reversed global warming, sorted through the mess at Guantanamo, secured peace in the Middle East --- oh, and pushed through legislation to undo centuries of prejudice against the gay community. He's past his grace period of the magic 100 days and we're all tired of waiting.

Of course we're tired of waiting. But maybe we could give the guy a fair chance. I'm pretty sure GW was well into his second or third "working vacation" in Crawford by this point.

President Obama has proclaimed this month to be Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month. Bill Clinton made a similar proclamation but not until his last year in office, June 2000. Many believe it was his attempt to apologize for doing so little for GLBT rights. Let's hope that Barrack Obama's clear statement of support in his first year in office signifies his commitment to keeping his promises to us.

To read the entire proclamation, visit Gay Pride Month Proclamation on the White House website.


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Death is Not the Worst of Evils

While most of us might be able to pair New Hampshire with its state motto of "Live Free or Die", how many know that the original statement was "Live Free or Die; Death is Not the Worst of Evils"? General John Stark, the state's most distinguished Revolutionary War hero, is said to have written "Live Free or Die; Death is Not the Worst of Evils" as a toast to his wartime comrades. Possibly it was simply too long to fit on a license plate but it seems a shame that such a great part of his sentiment was dropped.

But you gotta believe that the good folks of New Hampshire take their motto seriously. Today, Governor John Lynch signed marriage equality into law, making New Hampshire state number six!

That's a lot of progress in a short amount of time. Momentum appears to be on our side. However, this struggle has been going on for a long, long time and we all know it's far from over. Organizational fanatics like the right-wing National Organization for Marriage tried all the same shameless tactics in New Hampshire and they have vowed to make every legislator that voted for equality pay with their political future. 

HRC was one of the driving forces in gathering the support that was needed to push this through. Here's a short video on their "one conversation at a time" approach that is proving to be very successful. You will also have the opportunity to send a short message to Governor Lynch and the fair-minded lawmakers of New Hampshire, adding your voice of support and thanking them for doing the right thing.

Thank You New Hampshire!


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Ann-Marie is on her way to North Carolina to help teach a ChiRunning Workshop. So, we're re-running one of her earlier essays. Many of you have joined us since it was originally published and the rest may simply enjoy reading it again. I know I did.

37 Seconds Well-Used is a LIFETIME!

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

Have you seen the movie Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium? While waiting for a prank to unfold, his cohort says, "Okay, now we wait --- exactly 37 seconds --- "

To which Magorium replies incredulously, "Wait???  NOOOOO!!! .... We breathe! We pulse! We regenerate! Our hearts beat! Our minds create! Our souls ingest!  37 seconds well-used is a LIFETIME!"

37 seconds. But honestly, you say, what can I do with 37 seconds?

Hmmm. If we only consider health and fitness, you can:

·    Hold your navel to your spine, for an isometric crunch...or use the time to do 3 or 4 of them for reps! You can do this sitting in your chair, driving your car, waiting in line...

·    Read the ingredients on that package you're considering eating...is this clean food? Ask yourself if you really want this in your body. If so, commit to it. If not, put it back.

·    Give yourself a back-of-the-neck rub --- or give one to someone else.

·    If you're sitting at work, stand up and stretch your body. Reach your arms to the sky, lengthen your spine (you can always squeeze your ab here!), and take a deep breath. Release your breath slowly, bring your outstretched arms down, let your vertebrae settle in where they belong, and then if you have 15 seconds left, do it again!

·    Get a glass of water and drink some. Put the rest nearby to sip on.

·    Look away from your work. Focus on a distant spot for a few seconds. For the rest of your time, move your eyes around as much as possible. Blink. A lot.

·    Make a list of things to do next time you have 37 seconds to use.

·    When you can think of nothing else to do, take a deep breath. Through your nose. (This activates nerve endings in the nose which calm the brain.)

Okay. That should get things started.

Now, what would you do with 37 seconds? Send us your list.

The 37 seconds it takes us to read it will be well-used! 

[Editor's Note: Ann-Marie Giglio, besides being a professional writer and the co-publisher of On the Gay Horizon, is the owner of a fitness studio focused on improving quality of life through the mind/body connection. She is a certified ChiRunning and ChiWalking instructor, AFAA certified Personal Trainer and Group Fitness instructor and SCW certified Pilates reformer instructor.]


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