get started with today's newsletter I gotta tell you that I
woke up cranky yesterday morning. And that shouldn’t have been
the case. The night before, I’d gone to a showing of the
documentary “Saint of 9/11”, which was about Father Mychal
Judge, the gay New York City Fire Department Chaplain who was
the first confirmed death when the
World Trade Center collapsed. The film focused on Father
Mychal, rather than 9/11, and seemed like one of those gifts of
synchronicity because it paralleled what I had been thinking I
wanted to write about this week.
went home and fired up the DVR so I could hear President
Obama’s speech. Sigh……
I shouldn’t have been surprised. I mean, after all, I lived in
the state that sent George Bush to the White House. I lived in
the district that repeatedly elected Tom Delay. And, much as I
try to forget, I have to confess that I lived in the Louisiana
parish that actually put David Duke in Congress. So when that
disgusting outburst came from the Republican side of the
chamber I just had a feeling….
enough. That “You lie!” reverberating through the National
Statutory Hall and broadcast to the world, came from the
Congressman from South Carolina, my brand new home state. Ugh!
willing to overlook the peccadilloes of Governor Sanford.
Haven’t we all made some choices because of love (or lust,
whichever the case may be) that, in retrospect, we wish we had
spent a little more time thinking through? I was even
considering buying one of those t-shirts I’ve been seeing - “My
Governor went to Argentina but all I got was this lousy
t-shirt”. But this was different. It was symptomatic of a much
deeper issue. My crankiness was because I knew I was going to
have to write about it.
I had one of those wonderful “light bulb” moments! Maybe I
don’t have to --- maybe someone else has already done a far
better job than I ever could. Oh, yes! By the time I finished
reading “A Buttload of Moolah” I wasn’t even
Of course, my returning good humor might have
also had something to do with the fact that according to
the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, Joe
Wilson's Democratic opponent received roughly $100,000 in
campaign contributions in the eight hours following the
presidential address and last count it was over
Perhaps we should encourage our
Republican friends to speak up!
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With an Old
What's it all about, Alfie?
Is it just for the moment we
By: Karen J.
Co-Publisher, On the
It’s interesting what defines a generation. As children of the
Depression, our parents worshipped at the altar of security and
as the conquering heroes of Midway and Normandy they believed
the world now belonged to them. We, in turn, rebelled at the
notion that our primary goal was to get a good steady job or
marry someone with a stable financial future. The thought of
war was unthinkable and we didn’t want to rule the world --- we
just wanted to hang out in the park. So we let our hair grow,
wore funny clothes, burned draft cards and flags and looked for
meaning in drugs, sex and rock and roll.
our infatuation with “free love” and Timothy Leary’s
exhortation to “tune in, turn on, drop out”, we knew, on some
level, that there had to be more. I often wonder what might
have happened, how we might have shaped the world, if Nixon
hadn’t been Commander in Chief that spring day in 1970. But
paranoia reigned and the events at Kent State changed
everything. We’ll never know what might have been but what we
do know is that we folded up our bellbottoms and tie-dyed
t-shirts and became our parents. Security and financial
success at any price became our mantra. We donned the mantle of
entitlement and treated the rest of the planet as if it
belonged to us.
world isn’t ours to do with as we see fit and it’s gotten testy
at our treating it that way. Success at any cost hasn’t made us
happy. I’m not sure that where we were headed in the 60’s would
have either but I’ve never liked this detour we’ve been on for
the past several decades. And I’m feeling like we’re ready for
more than 40 years ago that Dionne Warwick first sang “what’s
it all about, Alfie” but it resonated at a level that not only
caught our attention but it has burrowed into our
consciousness. It pokes us from time to time whenever we stop
long enough to try and get our bearings.
a lot of time asking what it’s all about. What’s the point?
Why? It’s a consequence of loss and grief. Or maybe it’s a
gift. Depends on what day you ask me, I suppose.
yesterday, I was having lunch with someone who used the phrase
“what’s it all about” in a conversation about putting your life
back together after a major upset. We all start out in life
asking that same question. About everything. Driving our
parents crazy with our incessant efforts to know what
everything is and does and means. Most of us soon learn to stop
asking about the meaning part. Maybe because we get such
conflicting versions. Maybe because we think we’ve found the
answer in a religion or occupation or person, only to be
disappointed, time after time.
all had “Peggy Lee moments”. (And if you don’t know what that
means you’re really too young to be reading a newsletter for
gay baby boomers. But, I hate to lose readers, so Google it and
come on back. We’ll wait.) Up to this point we’ve
done just what the song said --- when we start questioning
whether our lives have meaning, “is that all there is?”, we
simply “keep dancing”. As we get older,
though, the distraction of the dance becomes less and less
effective. Sooner or later, we wind down and find ourselves
left with the same questions we came into the world with ---
“what is it all about?”
my belief that questions about purpose and happiness and
fulfillment can only be answered by venturing into the
spiritual arena, a place many of us adamantly resist. Spiritual
issues are difficult for everyone but they are far more so for
gay folks. In a recent speech, gay Episcopal Bishop Gene
Robinson said "Religion in general still presents the greatest
obstacles we face in full equality. Ninety-five percent of the
oppression that we know in our lives comes from the religious
curious to know how he arrived at the ninety-five percent
figure, but it feels pretty accurate to me. Fortunately,
religion is not at all what I’m talking about, although it is
what scares most of us away from exploring our spiritual
selves. Religion is about rules and control. It teaches that
which is not only incomprehensible but also totally
contradictory. Organized religion offends my intelligence and
sense of fairness and is just about the least loving
institution that I can think of. So, we won’t be wasting time
Spirituality, on the other hand, is
about getting in touch with that which is greater than our
physical selves. It’s what pulls us up short and demands “is
this all there is?” It’s what’s missing when we have the house
on the lake, an overflowing bank account, every award our
profession can bestow, the love of our life sitting next to us
and we realize that we still aren’t happy. Years after
publishing his “Hierarchy of Needs”, Abraham Maslov came back
and revealed that he believed there was another level above
self-actualization, the level where one reached maximum human
potential and possibilities. This other level he labeled as
“self-transcendence” and described it as a state of
acknowledge the uncomfortable fact that we have everything we
ever wanted and it still isn’t enough, we have a choice. It’s
one of those crossroad moments. We can always just keep dancing
--- renew our membership in the “he, who dies with the most
toys, wins” club.
Or..... Or what?
the tricky part. And it’s not the same for everyone. For me,
it’s a totally different way of looking at the world and what
we’re doing here. I can honestly tell you that I doubt that I
would have survived the death of my partner without it. Some
people find meaning in nature, some in meditation and many in
giving back by helping others in any number of ways. Some,
despite what I said earlier, find it in their religion. But the
key, I think, is in the search --- the recognition that we are
more than what our basic senses report. The realization that we
are connected in some, as yet unfathomable, way. That there
truly is no “other”.
baby boomers, just like our straight counterparts, we are
increasingly faced with the task of assessing not only what it
has taken to get us to where we are today but also with the
question of what do we want now. We spend a lot of time talking
about the goals of the gay community and rightly so. But I
think it’s just as important, especially as we enter this next
stage of our journey, to spend some time with our old friend,
is it all about?
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You Don't Have to Live with Back
Does your back
Align your Spine! Do some yoga. We finally have a
rigorous medical study that makes a real connection between
Yoga and spine health!
Researchers at the University of West Virginia reported in the
September 2009 issue of Spine (published by the North
American Spine Society) that "after 24 weeks, the yoga group
reported greater improvements in pain and disability, on
average, than the comparison group. And while none of the
study participants had major depression, the yoga group's
scores on a standard measure of depression symptoms improved to
a greater degree than the comparison group's."
Keep in mind that this study had participants take 6 months of
twice/week Iyengar-style yoga classes. Iyengar is a form
of yoga that emphasizes proper body alignment and uses "props,"
such as blocks, blankets and the wall, to help support people
in the various yoga postures. And the certified Iyengar
yoga instructors in this study had experience using yoga
therapy for back pain.
Yoga is at its heart a way to connect you to your spirit.
But in physical terms, it's a balancing of opposition.
Most poses create a strengthening of one part of the body,
while stretching another. And the slow movements are very
safe. Meditation can be the bonus, but even if you can't
quiet your mind, you will still do your body a world of
If you'd like to try yoga, first, find this type of yoga:
Iyengar. Second, check your instructor's credentials--did
he/she get their certification on-line (it's possible) or
through a rigorous training program that requires hands-on
apprenticing and re-certification every 2 years? Third,
talk to the instructor before you begin the classes and explain
that you have back pain, so the instructor can provide you with
modifications until your muscles catch up with the poses.
And remember...these people took 6 months of yoga--not 6
sessions. But gradually, without the use of pain
medication or surgery, they found relief.
You can, too. One pose at a