Coming Out of the Closet

Over the weekend someone posted Ellen DeGeneres doing a commencement speech at Tulane in 2009.  If you haven’t heard this I highly recommend you listen.

Ellen’s Commencement Speech @ Tulane University from James Huang on Vimeo.

Ellen is awesome, real, funny and inspiring.  The speech is filled with her humor, but more importantly her message is one that is critical.  Success is being able to be who you truly are, to contribute, to live in integrity, with compassion and not define your success by the measures of others.

Her story really touched home for me at this point in my life. In some ways I am coming out of the closet.  No, I am not going to declare to the world through my blog that I am gay or lesbian.  I do think I have been openly clear that my business and life partner is a woman, CrisMarie.  However, the irony of my own personal coming out process is that it might be easier if I could just join one of the clubs – either as gay or straight.  However, I just can not.

Here’s why.  My loving has very little to do with my sexuality, and I am SO tired of having loving and sexuality be glued together.  I am in a committed, loving relationship with CrisMarie.  If I had to define my sexuality the best I could do is say bi-sexual.  Now that might seem easy, but let me tell you, I have had some very painful and mean comments thrown at me from both lesbians who think I am copping out and straight folks who simply define okay as man/woman sex, married with children.

It is beginning to really annoy me that our culture is so determined to make sexual orientation such a big deal.  I honestly do not get it.  Now if someone is forcing any type of sexual activity or their opinion about someone’s sexual orientation on others, I am totally against it.  Myself, I am not particularly fond of passionate physical expressions publicly by a man and woman, two men or two woman.  It just isn’t my thing.  But it isn’t about sexual orientation. Nor do I think people who do like public displays of affection are evil, bad or need to be corrected.  I think I just like my physical, sexual expression to be more private.

Sure I am following the current marriage laws and hoping that at some point our country can catch up with so many other countries that get that a loving relationship is not defined by sex or gender, nor should it be.  A loving committed relationship, a marriage is a union between two people who want to spend their lives, the highs, lows, pain and pleasure together. Sex is very likely to be a part of that, but sex is not necessarily loving or about love at all.  Sure it can be.  But really, loving and commitment to another person is so much more than that.

So I loved listening to Ellen and I want to come out of the closet.  Not as gay or straight but as a human being, loving and learning through being with an awesome human being who is interested in sharing this wild and crazy ride on planet earth. I want to contribute and model compassion through valuing our differences and accepting people as they are.

Boy does it feel good to be out!  So as Ellen’s concludes, “It’s going to be okay, Let’s Dance!!”

Fun Footnote: A number of people say I dance just like Ellen! Now that is a compliant I enjoy!



Focusing Through My Fears

We are about to launch our new thrive! website! (here’s the old one, stay tuned!) Yes, this is a project that has taken six months. (Well… may be seven).  I am also launching myself out in the world as a Martha Beck Certified Coach. Plus, there’s my summer of stepping out in the Ladies Golf League, doing and sharing my personal writing, and my latest commitment to drop my comfort foods of chips and beer (well at least for a few weeks!).

Something in me is scared!
I’m Scared!

With all the new activities and the revealing of more of myself, I find myself slightly thrilled and slightly terrified.  The website is a big deal. Because instead of simply marketing ourselves as business consultants, we are stepping out aligned with our own model of Whole Person + Whole Team = Great Results.  For us it has been a way of living but not a way of marketing.

For years now we have been business consultants who know that the best work gets done when people bring more of themselves fully to whatever it is they are doing.  We are personal and business gets done!  For years we have also been leading programs up at The Haven, for individuals and couples wishing to enrich their lives and their relationships, meaning bringing more of who they are to everything they do!  Now we are integrating our worlds in our marketing.

We know that is generally not the business model.  But we believe it is time that changes!

Of course, that can be a terrifying step to take.  What if our clients don’t agree?  What if we don’t succeed at creating a virtual presence as relational health experts?  What if people don’t like our new look and feel?  What if..? What if..?

My mind can run through lots of worse case scenarios and left to it’s own free play, I am very likely to stall and slip into despair before anyone even has a chance to say they don’t like me, us, the website or whatever.

Instead, I am trying to not let my mind run the show.  I have been practicing Focusing, a way of working with the various parts of myself.  Focusing is practice that CrisMarie uses regularly in her coaching and has been teaching me.  She hasn’t been marketing herself as a coach in Focusing because something in her is afraid. (So I am marketing her here! – Check her website out for her summer special!)

In Focusing the invitation is to realize that whatever feelings or thoughts I might be having are simply – something in me –  something in me feels scared, thrilled, afraid of failing etc…  Not all of me.  Focusing is also about allowing that something to have a voice, space, though the key lies in allowing the felt sense.  Felt sense drops me into my body not simply my mind.  Focusing is all about accepting whatever is going on, yet not getting overly identified with any one part.  So not separating or over-identifying.  It is a very powerful way of working with myself, and yet, quite simple.  The act of saying “something in me is terrified” is totally different than “I am terrified.” Try it for yourself, right now, and see how it feels inside.

In this period of lot’s of newness, I am greatly appreciating finding tools that support me in discovering new ways of working with myself, accepting myself, all of myself.  There is indeed something wonderful about stepping out of my old skin that no longer fits or feels right.  However, it isn’t easy waiting and allowing the new skin or new way to emerge.  Still, as I mentioned a part of me is thrilled to have so much happening! And a part of me is scared!  And there is even more of me that has yet to speak up and come forward — that is until now, as I simply allow and accept ALL of me!!

The Many Life Lessons of Golf!

“Golf is deceptively simple and endlessly complicated. It satisfies the soul and frustrates the intellect. It is at the same time rewarding and maddening—it is without a doubt the greatest game mankind has ever invented.” ~Arnold Palmer

My friend, Jim Sellner, sent me this quote this morning.  I have no doubt because I have become a touch obsessed with golf.  Yes, the Ladies League Night has led to practicing, lessons and early morning golf tee times!  In many ways I am having a blast.  I am also fully realizing the maddening aspects of the game mentioned in the quote.

May be I shouldn’t have taken the short cut!!

Just last night, I found myself having what I thought was one of my best games yet.  I was hitting the ball longer, straighter and indeed started off with far fewer shots on each hole.  However, in the end three very bad holes totally overtook all the good stuff in terms of my score card.  My brain was screaming, “loser”, but my soul was singing with the satisfaction of progress and a few wonderful shots!

I don’t know that I agree that golf is the greatest game, but I do totally get the rewarding and maddening aspects as well as satisfying the soul while frustrating the intellect.  Plus, I have come up with my own life lessons that a summer of golf is teaching me.  These lessons do go well beyond the fairway.

  1. Loosen my gripThat may be obvious for some, but honestly I never knew that was why I was topping the ball or more importantly ‘coming in a situation well over the top!’
  2. Don’t think to much about itIndeed another obvious one and still one of the hardest to break.  I am masterful at reliving, well re-thinking over and over something and it generally leads to trouble!
  3. One short putt is just as powerful as a 220 yard drive.  Those little things do count, even though to often the big things get way more focus and attention!
  4. Hitting over the trees (or water)  may be a short cut but only if I really can hit over them!  I love this one.  There are signs on the course encouraging golfers not to take the short cut – but honestly most of us over-confident drivers – go right for the straight line and must of us aren’t really skilled enough to get there.  Thus hacking our way out of the trees or worse hitting though a window of a house just on the other side!  (this explains two of my three horrible holes – no broken windows but water and lots of trees! )
  5. Be willing to shift your weight.  In any swing, except putting, there is a need to shift your weight from one foot to the other.  Too often I find myself either hacking with just my arms or getting stuck with my weight on one side.  This one may be even truer off the golf course:  I need to be willing to shift off my own fixed position!

So golf is teaching me many lessons!  Plus I am meeting new folks and enjoying some community building.  I doubt I’ll ever be good, but my soul is still singing with the satisfaction of making a few great shots!  Some short and some long!!