Queer Shift


You’ve all heard me go on and on about change and choice being the only two constants in life. I still feel that way. I have even called them principles— so often hijacked by the conservative right that many hate the words. I hate them as well when they are overused, misused, or used to judge or blame someone. I have also learned in the last few years with the hypocrisy of the Boomers that principles may be perceived by X-ers and Millennials as a damned dirty word, and that is a shame, and a huge problem for the Boomers who have made it suspect and not acknowledged as a word that matters in our society.

I admire Steve Jobs, miss him, and feel there are far too few like him in this world. He once said: “For the past 33 years I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself, ‘If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?’ And whenever the answer has been ‘No’ for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.” Steve was right!

It seems to me that change is happening at a much faster pace than any other time in my life, or memory.  Maybe the feeling is natural and comes with age. I really do believe change is upon us every day, with some of the biggest changes happening to those of us in the queer community, or to organizations struggling with our full acceptance, recognition, respect, equality and inclusion.

Compounding that, I too have been involved in tremendous personal change since the end of 2013 and into the first quarter of 2014. I just hope like hell that it all settles down a bit, and that my husband Doug and I get an opportunity to just enjoy the spring and summer.

I recently accepted a new position with OUTreach Resource Centers, as co-executive director of Adult Programming and Community Engagement. I am very excited to be working with this diligent organization and it’s desire to grow, expand and have even greater impact on LGBT people of all ages.

I had somewhat told myself that I was going to get out of the LGBT nonprofit world, and then the Universe reminded me not to fight the Universe — it always wins, either by my human stubbornness being notched down, or because there are things only I need to be doing at this time in this organization.

So, if you fully or slightly agree with me that change is a constant in our lives, then why do we not embrace it and move through it as smartly as we can, rather than arresting ourselves in weeks, months and even years of fighting it? Change comes with health, career, relationships, aging, communities, all of nature, and yes — right now change seems to maddeningly balancing the world of gay people.

Let’s break it down to get our heads around change. Here are 12 rather inclusive steps I have used when facing significant change in my life. Not easy steps, but better than going at it all alone. I’ve collected, refined, added to the list throughout the years. Use what works for you; if it does not then look at another one(s), or create your own. But do it!

  1. What really is changing? (examine it damned good and write down perceptions, rather than constantly thinking about it.)
  2. How does this change make you feel? (elated, angry, relieved, paranoid, stressed, unappreciated, hopeless, challenged.)
  3. How am/was I responsible for this change in my life? (be honest, rarely are people taken by total surprise.)
  4. Take some time early on, a day or so and create a solid, reasonable rationale for the change that is occurring?
  5. What is the future state of me as I get through this change? (envision, create a mind-map, write a list, hell — write a story if it helps keep your mind on the future, instead of dwelling in the past and mind-spinning in the middle of the night.)
  6. Create some boundaries, some do’s and dont’s about your behavior as you go through the change — thoughts, actions, words during this change. How will you hold yourself accountable for these boundaries?
  7. Who could help be on my A-team during this change? (those I trust, those who tell me the truth, those with expertise, those who are my advocates. Talk to them. Glean.)
  8. What are my success factors for getting through the change, my strategy, milestones? Am I being completely clear and honest about them? If at all possible do not set unrealistic timelines.
  9. Do I have the resources, necessities, to make this change including knowledge, time, good health, exercise, positive thinking, money, and a simple and concise plan? (if not where could I bolster these.)
  10. How will I measure my successes in getting through the change? (small victories, planning for some setbacks, but not allowing them to screw me up as I change.)
  11. Am I ready? Fully invested with my head, heart, and gut?
  12. How will I know I have made the change successfully? (establish a short list of accomplishments that will be informative.)

A tremendous amount of the 12 suggestions above are centered in personal attitude, and I really like this quotation I found years ago. I pull it out and review it as I am facing difficult and challenging changes in my life, whether they be big or small. It truly helps me.

“The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on my life. Attitude to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill.

“It will make or break me. The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past… we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude… I am convinced that life is 10 percent what happens to me and 90 percent how I react to it. And so it is with you… we are in charge of our Attitudes.”  – Charles Swindoll

Here’s a few other conclusions I have made as I have coached people, consulted organizations, and done my own work around change. I know this for damned sure — thought processes and relationship dynamics are fundamental if change is to be successful and change is only successful when you are committed to get through it.

I also know that people fear change, thinking it is happening to them, and they have no control. Most change that impacts me is good for me, but at times the decision that throws me into change is all about, all for, and created by someone else, their power or control trips and not mine. Truth is more important during change than is uncertainty.

Trust is earned by those who demonstrate consistent behavior and clearly defined values. A really solid vision of the end result you want is the finest guarantee you’ll reach your goals at the end of the change.

Finally when it comes to change and the unpredictability of life, create a annual mantra, one you can read, memorize, chant, pray about, and most importantly use! This one was a superbly powerful one I used years ago — so good I recycled it for 2014.

“Come to the edge, he said.
We are afraid, they said.
Come to the edge, he said.
We will fall, they said.
Come to the edge, he said.
They came to the edge,
He pushed them and they flew.

Come to the edge, Life said.
They said: We are afraid.
Come to the edge, Life said.
They said, we will fall.
Come to the edge, Life said.
They came. It pushed them…
And they flew.”
―Guilliame Apollinaire

Get on with change, and soar!

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