Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Never blend in

Two of my favorite moments of the night. Powerful, life changing words of courage in the acceptance speeches from the screenwriter, Dustin Lance and leading actor Sean Penn for the movie Harvey Milk.

Talk about the power of telling a true story and changing lives. We know that Harvey made the ultimate sacrifice of his life by living openly, pursuing his dream of equal rights, giving hope and in some cases saving the lives of those who are in the discriminated gay minority of America.

There's a new way to show your support for this minority with a small donation and the wearing of a thin white band that says "Never Blend In." The Harvey Milk site is where you can find them and your gay friends will love you for your courage to wear your support on your sleeve, or at least close to it. I also enjoyed hearing the words of Harvey Milk on this site.

Harvey Milk




Although it would be easier, I agree with Harvey that we can't afford to blend in and surrender our rights. Equal rights should be the right of everyone in America, not just the majority and we need to fight for them until they are granted. Please join me in that fight by doing whatever small part you are called to do. Even if it is as small as speaking up when given the chance to oppose Proposition 8 in California or Amendment 2 in Florida.

We cannot afford to blend in.

Monday, February 23, 2009

What would I do today if I were brave?

Jana Stanfield is one of the best songwriters alive today IMHO and she wrote a song that became the theme for the Girl Scouts of America, What would I do today if I were brave?

You can check it out here:


The song is awesome but the answer to the question is all tied into what matters most. I think the only thing that stops me from doing what I love most is fear, fear of the unknown, fear of what has gone wrong in the past when I have done it, fear that I won't be good enough, fear that I won't be able to make a living, fear that the world doesn't need what I love most -- telling stories that change people's lives.

That's what I would do if I were brave. Like Garrison Keillor on Prarie Home Companion or Dave Barry in his syndicated column, or maybe host a talk show like Bill Maher where I could say exactly what I think and feel and not worry if I offend someone. Maybe on second thought, Garrison's approach would get me fewer death threats.

Story tellers, all of them, and they have changed my life. So this blog is my feeble attempt at getting up the courage to finally do what I would do if I were brave. Today a blog with 3 followers, tomorrow an HBO feature.

What would you do today if you were brave?


There is no such thing as failure, only feedback

Why is it that when something bad happens, it feels terrible? I have been so conditioned to strive for success that when something goes wrong I feel terrible and I feel like a failure. But usually in time, after I get over myself, that failure turns into a valuable lesson. Of course to get to this point it normally takes time and perspective to see it as the lesson it is instead of the failure that it feels like.

I truly believe that if I could remember this at the time I could get to the lesson sooner instead of dwelling on the failure and spend more of my time in joy. At these times this lesson serves me well, there is no such thing as failure, only feedback. My failure is only a failure if I fail to see the feedback, to take the lesson and apply it so that it is only a step on the way to eventual success, even if that success looks very different that what my original vision might have been. Funny how my limited vision can be without the valuable feedback I need to see my success a different way.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Timely improvements over delayed perfection

Once upon a time many years ago, I started my career in marketing. Those were the days that everything we did was in person, print, video or radio. A marketing campaign took months to strategize, plan, execute, measure and then adjust or refine based on the results. Making a change in a print ad or a printed brochure was a major undertaking, nearly as arduous as starting over again. And you had to have patience to wait on the results of a direct mail campaign, sometimes up to 6 weeks before you knew if your response rate was 2% (crack open a beer) or 4% (pop the cork on champagne).

And then Al Gore invented the Internet and I finally found my calling. For me, the Web is like marketing on crack. I can have an idea, execute it on my website, measure the results and adjust my campaign all within an hour if I have enough traffic to get statistically significant measurements (which I did at sites such as Travelocity.com and eDiets.com).

So this is my mantra; make timely improvements over delayed perfection. It fits with my belief that there is no such thing as a new idea but what defines success is in the implementation. Most ideas have been thought of before but few people are great at executing. Perfectionists tend to want to wait until their plan is perfected, their execution fully routed, proofed and tested and everything is tied up with a nice bow. But in the web world implementation and feedback can dramatically change your plan or send you down a different path altogether. But not to worry, you can always change it in about an hour or so. You gotta love it!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Don't be a gaycist

First they came for the communists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a communist.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a Jew.

Then they came for me
and there was no one left to speak out for me.
(A poem attributed to Pastor Martin Niemöller, published in a 1955 book by Milton Mayer, They Thought They Were Free)

 
So now they are coming for the gays, stripping us of our rights, the moral majority deciding the fate of the minority. I wonder how our world would be different if slavery were left up to a state-by-state popular vote of a pre-Lincoln America? Well for one, I don't think we would have our current president in office. I know that the Bible was used to justify slavery just as it is being used to justify gaycism denying yet another minority their rights all in the name of religion.

But then again we as a society are known to pick and choose only the things that are convenient or agreeable to us to follow in the Bible and we willingly ignore others in the same section that says "You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination." Bans against wearing gold, eating shellfish, getting divorced, having tatoos, cutting hair in a round shape or playing football co-exist with this proclamation but somehow we choose to ignore those edicts. I especially love the letter to Dr. Laura that made its rounds back in 2000 specifically addressing this hypocrisy asking her opinion on how we should enforce the penalties for these transgressions clearly laid out in that same Bible (death by stoning, selling daughters into slavery, removal of limbs).

How will the act of separating and denying 1,138 legal rights to same spouse partners protect the institution of marriage? It sounds to me like a group of elitists trying to exclude those that are different than they are from their position of privilege. In this country we have the right to bear arms and kill our neighbors, friends and family (in 2009 nearly 50% of homicides were by family, friends or acquaintances) and this is protected by our constitution.

But the right to love and marry who we choose is a privilege to be awarded to only those that meet the religious requirement of being a man and woman. What happened to separation of church and state? Where are the courts who are supposed to protect the rights of the minority from the majority vote? Where are the African Americans who remember how it feels to be told who they can and cannot marry? Oh, I think they forgot since 70% of African Americans in California backed Proposition 8, according to exit polls.

Well the reversal in California will impact loving couples, families, friends and co-workers for years to come, not to mention the future marriages (and revenues they create) that will never happen. Here's a stimulus package worth considering; let's agree to a law that will generate a projected $684 million in wedding services in California alone or the $111 million in Massachusetts over the next 3 years. What I don't understand is why in the world would we spend so much time and energy taking away rights when we have so many larger issues to contend with like wars in 2 countries, uninsured Americans, joblessness, financial fraud in epidemic proportions?

And then I remember, I don't have to solve these problems or answer these questions, only outgrow them. Join me in seeing each of those featured in this video outgrow this temporary obstacle, this opportunity for expansion, that we seem to be encountering as we search for the modern day Abraham Lincoln to save our country from gaycism.

Monday, February 16, 2009

We aren't here to solve our problems, we are here to outgrow them

Last week I had the experience of a hurricane named Michael Beckwith. I use hurricane to describe the experience because our time together was powerful, it was uplifting, is rearranged some of my thinking and it destroyed some old thought patterns that no longer serve me. He said something in his talk that was such a relief for me and something that rang so true, "we are not here to solve our problems; we are here to outgrow them."

What a relief that I don't need to figure out why my job was eliminated, how I'm going to make ends meet, why the stimulus package wasn't supported by any Republicans, how in the world will the health care crisis be solved. Michael suggested that any problem we are struggling with already has a solution, that the answer is within us. But we won't find it out there, the issues and problems I am dealing with are opportunities to go within and to go beyond my small view of myself to realize something even better. Even delays or obstacles along the way each deliver an important piece of my unique experience puzzle that will eventually complete a whole picture that I just can't see right now.

So I need to go beyond that which is directly in front of me to see something larger and bigger than what my small focus may not be allowing me to realize. It isn't about obsessing on the stimulus package or my lack of a job but rather the time I have in my life right now to find a larger definition of who I am and how I will earn the energy/money I need to realize my true potential.

I choose today to focus on how I can outgrow the obstacles in front of me to become something better and bigger than any problem in front of me now.

To see the hurricane in action yourself check out his presentation to the proposed new government office of The Department of Peace!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Life is a stage to give and receive our gifts

As a follow up to the meaning of life, I sometimes wonder how in the world those around me can love me or how in the world I can love them. Then other times I'm lucky enough to remember that whatever I might be doing for a job, for my social life, for my relationship, for my home, for my vacation -- everything is just a stage for me to interact with exactly the right people and to give my gifts and receive theirs.

Sometimes I forget this and think that whatever stage I'm on is the important thing, like selling timeshares or servicing owners or making a widget or seeing the Himalayas but then something will happen to remind me that those are all just the props, the set, the backdrop to do the important work of our time on earth -- to give our gifts and receive gifts from others.

Not gifts like packages, tied up in a bow, but gifts of caring, love, laughter, joy, sharing, connection - all of the things that define us as God having a human experience. I heard a great performer this weekend, Amy Carol Webb (she's the one on the left with the mug) and she sang a song called "God Has No Hands But Ours". It was a great reminder that if those gifts are going to make it to those of us on earth then it is up to me to deliver them and to receive them no matter what perfect child of God shows up to bestow them.

And if I'm caught up in whatever stage or drama that I happen to be involved in at the time, then I might miss that opportunity. So do me a favor, help me remember that life is just a stage where I am called to give and receive my gifts.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

The meaning of life - to give and receive love

Welcome to the first posting of "what matters most" and some of you may ask why bother? I guess because we as humans increase the knowledge of our species by written and spoken word, I thought that maybe, just maybe I have learned some things in life that might be worth sharing. I also know that by sharing we also remember so life's lessons aren't just fleeting and lost moments that depart as quickly as they arrive. So I will start with the meaning of life, at least as far as I can tell -- To Give and Receive Love.


I know we all live our lives as if education, job, power, money, position, title, etc. are what matter in life but in the end whatever job we have, whatever things we have, whoever is in our life are really just vehicles or our stage to do what matters most -- To Give and Receive Love.


Anything besides these 2 acts are temporary illusions, perceptions and judgements that dissolve when our body temple no longer serves us. The only thing that remains is the love that has been given and received. Puppies and dogs know this, they are here to show us how to do what they do so well -- Give and Receive Love, unconditionally and without hesitation.


Okay, so maybe you have experienced people who aren't interested in giving you love, as a matter of fact they give you more of a hard time than love. That's just a cry for love on their part. No matter how unlovable they may seem, it is our calling, our purpose, the meaning of life -- To Give and Receive love.


I'm writing this to remind myself of this fact, I need the reminder, like everyone, I have more days that I forget than remember the meaning of life. But how much simpler and peaceful my life is when I do remember. My goal is to have those brief moments of remembering - to make each one longer than the last and to make the time between those moments shorter and shorter so that one day I can have that memory be my experience of life. Join me in remembering that the purpose of life is to give and receive love.