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With these changes in latitudes, changes in attitudes  

Nothing remains quite the same

  Jimmy Buffett 



   Changes in Latitude, Changes in Attitude 

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

Week #2 in Charleston.

I’m settled in to the point of hitting the inevitable “what have I done?!?” I quit a perfectly good job, sold a wonderful little house, left family and friends behind and totally uprooted my life. It’s possible that I didn’t actually think this through.

Okay. Okay. What is it Ann-Marie is always saying? Breathe. Just breathe. But it all happened so fast! Put the sign in my yard and one weekend later I had an offer and next thing you know I’m on the freeway with the cats.  

One little thought….”maybe I’ll move to Charleston” and wham! Now what? Perhaps I should have had a plan…..

People keep asking me how I’m doing. What’s it like here? Do I love it? What many of them are really wanting to hear is that this move is going to be some sort of “answer”.

I appreciate --- deeply appreciate --- their concern. But the only thing that has changed is my address and the scenery --- the “changes in latitude”. The key to my being able to build a future is the “attitude” part. My unhappiness had nothing to do with my living in Houston. It’s all me.

Last week, thoroughly over unpacking and in the mood to do a little exploring, I drove north on Highway 17 and stopped at one of the visitor centers for the Francis Marion National Forest. Manning the information desk was a woman, probably in her 70’s, who eagerly answered all of my questions. When I mentioned that I had just moved here, she told me that several years ago she came for a visit, went home to Louisville, sold her house and relocated. There’s something about Charleston and it doesn’t take long for it to hook you.

The really interesting thing, though, was that as I was leaving, she said “have a great life”. That was the second time in a little more than a week that someone had said that to me. The first time was back in Houston by someone who actually knows me and who knew my partner. She added “you deserve it.”

“Have a great life. You deserve it.”

I thought about that a lot while I was driving from Texas to South Carolina. I know she meant that she was aware of how hard it’s been and that she hoped that life was going to balance out for me now. Like I’d paid my dues and now it was my turn for something wonderful. And I know she meant it in only the best way. But isn’t that the same kind of thinking taught by all the religions --- from the Christian “mansions” and “streets of gold” in heaven to the Muslim “forty virgins”?  That the more you suffer, the bigger the payoff?

I’ve been guilty of that kind of thinking recently --- that for every benefit there must be a corresponding cost and vice versa. Because of how wonderful my partner was, when she died, it made perfect sense to me that the price for having such a gift would be nearly impossible to pay.  Most of the time I don’t seem to have made much progress. But, now I’m wondering if there isn’t an error in my thinking.

I don’t place much stock in the concept of some deity with a tally sheet deciding who’s worthy of a nice afterlife and who isn’t. And if the “cost / benefit” model really balanced things out right here in this lifetime, the world would be a far different place. People who were honest and worked hard would reap all the rewards. The sick would be treated with compassion and cured in time to make up for all they missed. Conversely, the rich and privileged would end up in soup kitchen lines and checking the mail for their unemployment checks.  Not really happening.

No, I don’t think that’s how it works. I believe life pretty much just is. Some days are better than others. But even the good days, just like the good relationships, can be missed if we aren’t paying attention. Bottom line, I think it all comes down to where we’re placing our focus.

There is a power greater than all the weaponry on the planet. Greater than the armies and the governments and the political systems. It’s the power of our thoughts. Nothing happens without it. If we focus on what we don’t have or what we’ve lost and how hopeless and empty everything is, then that is exactly where we stay. However, if we catch those thoughts and turn them to allow for the possibility of a different life, the whole world opens up.        

Change your thoughts and you can change how you experience your life.


This move was kind of an experiment. I did exactly what I just described. Took the thought of moving to Charleston and consciously held my focus on it. The resulting ease and speed were a bit startling.

Can I do the same thing with finding a way to be happy in a world that my partner has left? I honestly don’t know.

But there is another stanza of that Jimmy Buffett song that I’ve been singing today as I thought about what I wanted to write…..

Oh but yesterdays are over my shoulder 

So I can’t look back for too long 

There’s just too much to see waiting in front of me 


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Health Care or Health Scare?

Do you ever wonder why people make such ridiculous and blatantly false statements? Like defeating Proposition 8 would make it a hate crime to use the term “family values”. Or that President Obama has a forged birth certificate. Or the “swift boating” of war heroes like John Kerry and Max Cleland.

Well, I’ll tell you why. Because it works.

Even though some handler has since jerked her chain and forced her to tone down her rhetoric, Sarah Palin’s comments about the Health Care Reform proposal have helped fuel passionate opposition. Comments with absolutely no basis in fact. 

"And who will suffer the most when they ration care?" Palin asks. "The sick, the elderly, and the disabled, of course. The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama’s 'death panel' so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their 'level of productivity in society,' whether they are worthy of health care. Such a system is downright evil."

When asked what part of the bill she was basing this on, her spokesperson, Meg Stapleton, indicated page 425 of the House Democrat’s bill.

What this section of the bill actually talks about is providing advance care planning consultation. This includes things like explanations by medical practitioners of advance directives, including living wills and durable powers of attorney, the role and responsibilities of a health care proxy, lists of national and State-specific resources to assist consumers and their families with advance care planning and an explanation “of the continuum of end-of-life services and supports available, including palliative care and hospice, and benefits for such services and supports that are available under this title,” as well as “an explanation of orders regarding life sustaining treatment or similar orders.”

No death squads. No endorsement of euthanasia. Only the benefit of being given all the facts and made aware of the options available at one of life’s most difficult times. Personally, for us baby boomers, I believe this may be one of the most valuable parts of the legislation. But according to a recent poll, 45% of the American people believe Palin’s version. 

Why Americans are so quick to jump on these radical bandwagons is a discussion for another day. For now, the important thing is to counter the misinformation as much as possible. The health care legislation is not going to be perfect but I believe it is going to be a start in the right direction. There should be honest debate. But this is too important to allow the likes of Palin, Gingrich and Limbaugh to distort the facts and use this for their own political gain.     


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To Carb or Not to Carb...

Fit in a Year - Week 15

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

Are you as sick of the carb debate as I am?

Let's get straight to the heart of it:  what are carbs anyway, and why should we care?

Here's a definition straight from my personal trainer textbook, so it's simple enough for gym rats, ie, muscle-heads (not me, of course....), to understand:  "Carbohydrates are the body's main source of energy....Glucose, the end result of carbohydrate digestion, is essential in maintaining the functional integrity of nerve tissue, directs the rest of your body's maintenance, and IS THE SOLE SOURCE OF ENERGY FOR THE BRAIN under normal circumstances."

That's why we care about carbs.

You need to know there are 2 types of carbs:  simple and complex.  Of course you should eat mostly complex.  That's why I encourage you to take all the refined foods out of your diet.  Eat whole grains.  Whole fruits.  Whole vegetables.  Those are complex. 

When you live mainly (50% daily calories) on simple carbs like most Americans, and mostly from these sources:  soft drinks, cake, doughnuts, pastries, pizza, potato chips, popcorn, white rice and breads, beer, and french fries, that's high carbohydrate/low nutrition food.  So you get calories to burn, but no phyto-nutrients, no vitamins, no minerals, no fiber, no long-term fuels and amino acids for maintenance and repair.  And you don't feel full for very long.  Your body is constantly asking for a fix, because it burns right through that simple stuff.

On the other hand, if you limit your carbs (think diet-in-a-book) like the all-protein-have-your -steak-and-put-butter-on-it-too-plan, your body will use protein for fuel (it's not stupid.   No carb fuel?  Substitute!) which will seriously compromise your ability to build and maintain tissue.  If you do it long enough, you'll develop something called ketosis---a potentially fatal condition--because you can't break down fat.

So keep it simple.  Eat as many fruits and vegetables as you can.  Think of a serving size as a handful.  Mix it up.  Raw is great.  Steamed is fine.  Eat some nuts, too.  Every day.  And keep in mind that a glass of orange juice is nice, but it's concentrated, so you're getting more calories than just eating an orange, and you're getting NONE of the fiber, the phytonutrients, the amino acids that you get from the piece of fruit.

When you put a grain into your mouth, make it a whole one.  Be sure to check the label on everything processed for trans-fats....it's still legal to sneak them in there.

With all that in mind, I say:  Carb-ON!


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