Hope Lives On

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Friday, January 11, 2008

Re-branding of "Hope Lives On"

After taking a hiatus from blogging that lasted just over three years, in recent weeks I have come to the conclusion once again that the most effective way to share my thoughts, feelings and passions with others in this season of my life needs to be through blogging. This time around, I decided to have different blogs to serve varied purposes.

I debated on closing this blog and starting fresh, but decided against that for several reasons. As expressed at the top of the blog, "Hope Lives On" will now focus on significant issues of concern to LGBT people and to people affected or infected by HIV/AIDS and/or Hepatitis A, B and C. I include Hepatitis A, B and C in the list of possible topics because, unfortunately, I have known a disproportionate number of people who self-identify as LGBT and are living with or are affected by these diseases. Over time, I am sure that the realm of topics will become more focused.

Already we are eleven days into 2008. I reflect on how long it has been since I last posted on this blog and am amazed both at how much time has past and at what all has transpired in my own life in a relatively short amount of time. As one reflection of some of the many changes in my life since December 2004, I am now able to readily find my name in a Google search with regard to various things I have done since 2006. That will be a topic for a separate posting, however. This type of popularity has created its own set of issues through which I am working.

Since 2005 I have also grown considerably in the spiritual, psychological, social and professional arenas of life. I am grateful for many things as I move forward into 2008. I choose to have confidence and hope that, regardless what happens this year, I can find ways to grow from my experiences. This past year I knew eight people who died of cancer or heart problems and was vaguely acquainted with another who was killed in a tragic accident. That is sobering on the one hand, but, on the other hand, I am grateful that I have started to learn how to embrace death as a part of life. Somehow, though I grieve over these losses, they do not faze me as much as similar losses have in the past.

There are many other significant lessons I have been learning these past few years as well. One of these lessons has to do with my attitude. In the past, I let my attitude toward life be shaped in large part by my needing to find a way to survive when things happened to me. Increasingly, I am learning that I have the power and responsibility to choose my attitude--one which not only allows me to survive, but also enables me to thrive despite my having gone through some significant suffering. I am also learning that my attitude in a very real sense affects what I see happening in the world and that affects what my experience is. As we all know so well, suffering is a part of life for every human. For many years, I was continually striving to make sense of much of what had happened in my own life and in the world. For years I was angry and bitter and I let it consume me. Now I am starting to come into a place where I am letting go, so to speak. All of that is to say that more that anything else, perhaps, in the past three years I have started to really learn that it is my attitude toward suffering that can transform me for the better, keep me stuck or cause me to go in a negative direction.

As I move toward my 45th birthday in a little more than a month, I reflect with gratitude and joy on how much I have grown since my 40th birthday. So many people have played a key role in helping me to grow throughout my life, and I am thankful to each person I have known, but especially to those who have been most supportive of me, including family members, friends and colleagues. This attitude of thankfulness is something I have cultivated in the past three years. It has changed my life for the better.

Over the past three years, in part because of some very traumatic situations, I have also learned to do things that go against the grain for all of us. I started to practice concertedly forgiving, blessing (well-wishing and releasing) and also being thankful for those people in life who are not so easy for me to get along with, who may not be helpful or who may even do me harm. It has taken me awhile to get to where I am in this practice, and I am far from making much true progress in this arena. One of the key lessons here has been to realize that here too I always have a choice in what my attitude is toward people and circumstances, even when I am in great pain. coupled with this, I also am learning that I always have a choice to be open to learning from whatever comes my way. All of this for me is both scary and challenging, but it has also been exciting and deeply rewarding.

Finally, another major lesson for me has been to acknowledge my limitations as a human as well as my higher potential as one empowered by God for change in my own life and in the world. I have learned that I need to be true to who I am and acknowledge what I sense is the reality of God, or of a Higher Power, a Source, Higher Consciousness, Spirit, the Universe, or whatever you want to call a unifying life force that we can all choose to access. While I choose to call this Power "God" and identify primarily in Judeo-Christian terminology, that does not mean that I am not open to other perspectives and language in describing this Reality, but I do see myself as clearly Christian--just open to dialogue and this Reality being revelead in many ways. Indeed, you may notice some "Buddhist" overtones in the way I express some of what I have written here, but that is perhaps more because there seems to be a fair amount of cross-over between Western psychology and Buddhist thought.

Key to this "revelation" that I need to acknowledge and access my Higher Power (the Holy Spirit, in Christian language) in the process of consciously resisting my ego (lower self or "sin nature" in historic biblical language) and engaging with my higher self ("new creation", again in Christian biblical language), I have started to realize and acknowledge that while there is much that I want to change for the better, there is so much that I can do nothing about. And I am gradually learning to find peace with myself and with God despite that. The flip side of the coin, however is that I am learning that if I choose to engage with my higher potential for good and this Power for Good in the Universe (God), I can do far more than I ever would have imagined possible even a few years ago. If I were to put this in strictly Christian language, I might say that if I listen to the leadings of God's Spirit and follow them then with God there is nothing that is impossible.

With all of that said, let me wrap things up here by saying that as much as I would like for this blog to serve as a tool for creating positive change in our world around LGBT issues and those of people affected/infected by HIV/AIDS or a strain of hepatitis, I cannot expect it to do so. I need to acknowledge that perhaps this blog, more than anything, is simply a way for me to express my passions about certain issues so that I can get those thoughts and feelings out into the open rather than internalize them. Perhaps the biggest lesson I am learning in middle age is that I need to let go of things constantly and try to live in the present moment. One way of practicing this letting out process is for me to express or "let out" my thoughts and feelings about whatever is burdening me and to do so in as constructive a manner as possible. For me it is in this letting out of the concerns that I am able to find a way of letting go of whatever burdens me so that I do not let it consume me. While I cannot presume it, it still remains my hope that in my process of expressing myself here some of what I share will educate, encourage and motivate others in their own life journeys.

Whatever happens in 2008, I hope and pray that we all can find a way to make peace with what is going on and find an attitude that allows us to transcend the challenges we all face. Happy New Year, everybody! Here's to the best possible year for all of us! It will be whatever we each choose to make it. May hope live on for each of us!

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