Official blog for the book "Just Behind the Door"

Posts tagged ‘GLBT’

We Are All One

On September 28th, 2013 I wrote a blog entitled, ‘Barilla Out/Bertolli in. It was in reference to a statement from the CEO of the Barilla company saying basically that he did not support gay rights and, in fact, as far as he was concerned they (gays) could buy another brand of pasta if they didn’t like his comment. (You can read the entire blog by going to the archive section of my web site)

Then the power of social media kicked in and with it the possible negative financial effect to his company was realized and within two days his public relations team – wait for it – had him apologize for his comment which even included a weak invitation to gays to come on board and enjoy their pasta. Tongue in cheek, I thought to myself, “What an amazing change of heart and so quickly! I’m not buying it.” I need to see more than a mere 2 sentence apology to believe a deeper understanding of human rights happened. Consequently, I’m still buying only Bertolli pasta.

On the other hand there is a change worth supporting! Today an article was published regarding the Chick-fil-A company and its about turn on the same topic. About two years ago another CEO, Dan Cathy, came out in support of the “traditional family” and condemning gay marriage by saying when questioned by a reporter about his position on the topic, “guilty as charged”. Someone(s) in the company also realized the long term damage that could result from his comment especially in the future when the company plans to expand well beyond its Southern strong hold. So today we read that when Dan Cathy was again interviewed about gay marriage he said, “All of us become wise as time goes by …we sincerely care about all people.”

The company has done its research on the Millennial generation who want local sourcing, product quality (getting rid of those antibiotic filled chickens) and worker rights which include a higher sense of social consciousness (we are all made from the light of the Universal Energy).

The company with its 1800 stores plans to add 180 more restaurants this year creating an ever expanding footprint in the fast food market. When I read that Shane Windmeyer, Executive Director of the gay rights advocacy group, Campus Pride, once a critic and now a fan of the company said, “Dan (Cathy) and I have an ongoing friendship…I am appreciative for the common ground we have established in treating all people with dignity and respect.” I decided I’m in! Although I have never tried their food due to their previously limited social consciousness it seems the time has come. It may be the result of the the public relations advice, the financial bottom line but maybe …just maybe…the real change happened due to the friendship that developed between these two men. When we get to know others who may have a slightly different life perspective than our own, understanding and truth develops and we look past any differences and into their hearts.

Congratulations to Dan Cathy, Shane Windmeyer and everyone at Chick-fil-A. You are doing the right thing!

Please send this blog on to anyone who cares about human rights. One person at a time we can make a difference!

Have a great few days!

Barilla Out/Bertolli In

This website is about deepening our understanding about human emotions especially dealing with grief and loss. The topic of loss comes in many forms. An important one is the loss people experience from a lack of respect from others due to their lifestyle. We are, after all, created by the same Universal Energy of pure love. This site is about trying to make the world a better place one person, one blog, at a time. Rarely do I enter into current events unless my heart moves me to do so- and it did today.

Guido Barilla, chairman of the world’s leading pasta manufacture on Wednesday stated, “I would never do (a commercial) with a homosexual family, not for lack of respect but because we don’t agree with them. Ours is a classic family where the woman plays a fundamental role.” Why am I having a hard time accepting his explanation? The latest add for his company features Antonio Banderas baking biscuits (it seems there are 15 different brands and products made by the Barilla company) and talking to children about a chicken called Rosita. It was MR. Banderas who was featured in the add – but didn’t Barilla argue his point by saying ‘women play a fundamental role? Mr. Barilla also said he opposes adoption by gay parents. Ah…the real issue surfaces. No question where he stands on the topic of respect and equal rights. After a firestorm on social media sites, Barilla responded, “I apologize if my words have generated controversy or misunderstanding…” His words ring both hollow and insincere. Notice he didn’t apologize for being discriminatory but simply of “generating controversy” sounds like he is worried about the bottom line – money – and his PR folks were probably pleading with him, on bended knee, to recant his words. Mr. Barilla I think, ‘ thou protests too much!’ One just has to wonder why.

Misunderstanding really? Mr Barilla there is no ‘misunderstanding.’ Your comments were judgmental, offensive and lacked the integrity needed for a leader of a major company. You have a right to your own extremely limited perception but NOT as a CEO of a major company you inherited from your father which employs over 13,000 people. I wonder how some of your employees who are, no doubt gay, feel working for a company that promotes such discrimination. Do they have to hide in the shadow hoping not to be discovered and fired due to your stance? You made yourself both sadly and perfectly clear. Your comments were not a simple misunderstanding but a hateful and judgmental attack. You might want to contemplate on the statement, ‘Judge not, that ye be not judged.’

Now it is up to us, as consumers, to stand up and be counted. There is no place in my world that can accept a company that promotes discrimination, that includes Chic-fil-A and any other company that promotes division and discrimination among people. I accept the suggestion from Mr. Barilla that if his words upset me, simply do not eat his pasta – actually I could no longer stomach it. With each bite his comments would ring in my ear. Now let’s see if his 5.4 billion in net sales with be likewise effected. It’s up to us to decide.

It is good to know that alternatives exist. For instance, Bertolli, another Italian pasta maker company is NOT discriminatory and chose to feature a commercial highlighting a gay couple back in 2008! Imagine that! The character of this CEO and his company speaks volumes. They now have me as a permanent customer. I’m putting the intention out there that over the next year or so Bertolli will increase their sales by 40% because of both the integrity of their company and the quality of their product.

There is no room for discrimination, judgment or hateful comments in my world. Not now – not ever. Mr. Barilla will reap what he sows. That’s just how the Universe works.

Please forward this blog on to your friends and family. Information is a powerful thing. Let’s give others the chance to make a difference – an informed choice – so everyone can be accepted and treated with respect.

Have a great few days!

Are You Inclusive or Exclusive?

How comfortable are you with diversity? When we think about the Universal Energy of which we are all apart how can the diversity in others cause us fear or concern? Are we not all on a journey to learn our own unique lessons in life? Are we not all wanting the same thing? I believe each of us is wishing and hoping for others to look favorably upon us regardless of who we are and the struggles we are involved with while living on planet earth. Yet, sometimes we find ourselves viewing the habits of others and we think to ourselves, ‘well that’s rather strange.’ Let’s think again about the last time we felt uncomfortable because someone didn’t fit neatly into our own definition of comfort zone. I’ll bet a situation can immediately come to mind.

There are so many types of diversity: race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic, status, age, physical abilities, mental capacity, religious beliefs, political beliefs the list could go on and on. The differences are so great that it is sometimes a real challenge – maybe even impossible – to find others that view life through a similar lens. What if the Universe designed the differences as a test to teach us something about acceptance?

Seems to me that we can look upon differences in one of two ways. The first is with acceptance and a level of respect that causes us to move beyond tolerance to actually embracing and celebrating the rich dimensions of diversity within each individual. As we observe their differences we learn from them and become wiser people in the process. Or, the other option is to run back into our own comfort zone and think to ourselves that we alone have the right or proper view of life. When people take this second approach, we can see it in their faces and feel it in their energy. Their facial muscles tighten, their arms are frequently crossed in front of them and their eyes, the window to their soul, say to us, stay away you are not like me and I am not comfortable around you. When you observe people with this mindset something sad happens as they live out their life. Their world becomes smaller and smaller. Frequently they become fearful and angry at the world in general. It is, as if, they have spiraled down to a mere point of simply existing – not fully living – but merely existing. How sad.

What if we all made it a point to expand our comfort zone in some way just for today? It doesn’t have to be a biggie but just something that causes us a slight discomfort. Discomfort can be a good thing. It can indicate an area for potential growth. The opportunity to become a wiser, more accepting human being is in our hands. We simply need to decide if we are big enough, strong enough or wise enough to become more inclusive and less exclusive. Due to free will the choice is always up to us.

Let’s take the challenge and pick up the ball and run with it today and look at another human being that is different from ourselves with acceptance and celebration. Doing so will cause us to smile when we go to bed tonight realizing that we purposely pushed our envelop of comfort and in doing so we have enlarged our lives and made the world a little better place.

Have a great few days!

Courage and Jason Collins

Jason Collins, the basketball powerhouse, announced recently that, ‘I’m a 34- year-old NBA center. I’m black and I’m gay.” As quoted in the DailyBeast.com, he is “one of the biggest trailblazers in sports history.” Jason is the first openly gay athlete playing in a major American sport. I applaud his willingness to go where others have feared to tread.

He said he was tired of living in fear and denying his sexuality. He is strong, honest and human. His announcement will help all of us see that humans come in all shapes, sizes and sexual preferences. He went on to say that, “I wish I wasn’t the kid in the classroom raising his hand and saying, I’m different.” Since no other pro athlete has done it, he said, “I’m raising my hand.” He has received immense support from other NBA players. My hat goes off to him.

Some countries are more accepting of people in general. They see the person, the heart and not the label. We are making slow progress in the U.S. on the topic of gay rights. We now have 10 states that recognize gay marriage. The progress has been painfully slow. One of these days we will see the rest of our country rise to the occasion and accept a human being for who they are and what they do. May it happen sooner rather than later.

As a country, may we lose the fear, the diatribe of wrongness that is too often promoted when someone doesn’t understand an issue or walk in another person’s shoes. Ignorance is simply that…ignorance. You may not be able to fix stupid but you can fix ignorance.

I thank Jason Collins for his strength and willingness to be an example for the rest of the world. Change often happens slowly, painfully one person at a time.
Los Angles Lakers star Kobe Bryant tweeted to Jason, “Don’t suffocate who u r” and fellow Laker star Steve Nash said, “Maximum respect.” That response says a lot. No one should ever have to hide who they are for fear of not being accepted.

The Universal Energy/God doesn’t make mistakes. We would all be better off if we would talk truth, accept others with love, and live by the golden rule, do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Judgment on this topic has no place in a civilized, enlighten world.

Have a great few days!

Do You Have Faith in Tomorrow?

Watching bits and pieces of Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee celebration this weekend, I was moved to see the thousands of well-
wishers demonstrating such pride in their queen and country. The queen’s background is fascinating. When she was 14 and England was being bombed, she made a radio broadcast to the children of England stating, “In the end all will be well for God will care for us and give us victory and peace.” At 26 years of age she became Queen. She was no longer free to be a person in her own right but had to become all things to all people. She started weekly meetings with Winston Churchill and has continued the practice with every prime minister since that time. In addition to being the mother of four children she had a 24/7 job. As she witnessed divorces, separations, and deaths in her immediate family she just had to keep going. She adapted to the changes and losses in her life regardless of how difficult they may have been. She has the same human emotions that we all have as a mother, sister, daughter and wife and yet her 24/7 job, for the rest of her life, continues. There is no such thing as retirement for a queen – until death. In a televised address she called the celebration “a humbling experience.” Well done!

Luckily, we have not had to deal with the 24/7 expectancies in our lives that she has shouldered. We have had time to live our own lives, raise our families and even take time out for grief, when needed, without the mantel of expectancies hanging over our heads. I wondered to myself, how many of us can say that, like the queen, we have truly adapted – made changes for the positive – as our lives and our worlds have become more challenging. Do we look at our own lives optimistically, knowing that everything will work out as it is supposed to, or do we become bogged down in our lives wondering when ‘it’ will pass. The ‘it’ is called life. It won’t pass until we do, when our lessons are learned.

To remain optimistic requires that we believe in something bigger than ourselves. It has been said that, “One either has faith in God/Universal Energy or faith in our fears.” Whenever you begin to worry just think about that for a moment. Fear comes in so many forms and can paralyze us. When we lose someone it is natural to go through a period of mourning and fear. After all, life has suddenly changed –
oftentimes – without warning. As I discussed in my book, Just Behind the Door, the future can feel so uncertain after we experience a loss that we may need to seek the help of others to keep ourselves moving forward.

If we all work at fearing less and loving ourselves and others more the world will be a better place. It starts and ends with us. Take time to examine your own life. Don’t you find that 99% of what you worry about (fear) never happens. Yet many of us continue to waste the precious time we have on this earth worrying. We choose fear rather than belief. I don’t think it matters what name you give the power greater than yourself, it only matters that we realize that there is such a power and we are ALL a part of it. Like Queen Elizabeth II, let us give and receive love, have faith in our future and make the world a little better off when we leave it.

Loss – Responsibility – Life Lessons

Healing yourself after a loss – whether it is a death, divorce, or other type of separation is difficult and can be life changing. I have described in my book, Just Behind the Door, the many losses in my life, so I know from experience that healing takes time. I have read that after a loss, the average person expects us to ‘move on with life’ after a few weeks. Really? I don’t know what planet they are from but I do know that moving on with grace and dignity takes much more time than a few weeks. Your love was real, your grief is real. You do not need to try to hide the fact that you have been deeply affected. Honor your feelings and be good to yourself in the meantime. Try to find others who will listen with a caring heart as you relive the life experiences involved in your loss. Everyone has a story to tell and it deserves to be heard. There are people out there that care enough about you to take the time to focus while you mend your broken heart, regardless of the time it takes.

I do believe that we experience losses for the lessons they can teach us. What have you learned from this journey so far? Has it changed anything about you or your perspective? This is an important question. I have found that life has a way of repeating itself when we don’t learn the first time a challenge is presented.

I heard a speaker recently who talked about how to achieve a greater sense of healing. She said we must examine our life path and accept the responsibility that nothing happens by accident. We were part of our initial life planning – including the loss that we experienced. She feels that people who get stuck in grief do so because of one of two possible reasons. Either they believe that God or some other power did this TO them or that they just seem to continually attract random acts of negatives and catastrophes in their lives. In other words, they feel helpless and, at times, even hopeless, because they refuse to accept any responsibility.

I know that trying to wrap our heads around any possible role involved in a death or any other type of life changing loss is incredibly difficult. You just want to say, “Are you kidding, you think I wanted this to happen!” Of course not, at least not on a conscious level. However, as hard as it is to think that we had some part in the planning of our loss, I do believe it to be true. Why? Because my son, on the other side, has told me so. There was something that I needed to learn from it.

Regardless of what happens, I do not feel that some entity out there does this TO us or that we just experienced dumb luck. No, I believe it is much deeper and more spiritual that those beliefs.

I would love to hear how you feel about this perspective.

What is Your Gold Nugget?

Our thoughts, are the keys that open or close all doors in our lives. We know that positives attract positives and conversely, negatives attract negatives. Why would anyone allow themselves to be surrounded by or immersed in an ocean of negative thoughts from themselves or others? I believe it has to do with the concept of free will. Although we have chosen this life for the life lessons we wanted to learn, it is our RESPONSE to the lessons, using our free will, that is the key factor.

For instance,if you think of taking a cross country trip, you plan overnight stays in certain locations. You know ahead of time the distance you plan to drive in a given day, the time it should take. That seems logical, dependable and certain. However, due to our gift of free will, even though the major stops (or lessons) don’t change, we sometimes choose an alternate path. Maybe something sparks our interest and we take a short side trip on our route. Possibly, a detour on the road causes our plans to be changed momentarily. Road construction, even wild fires or floods can delay your progress. How do we respond to a change in our plans? Do we get upset and blame ourself or others? I have learned to look at those changes more simply. Everything happens for a reason and everything will work out just the way it is supposed to. The Universe/God doesn’t make mistakes. My son has told me this, repeatedly, in my book, Just Behind the Door. The important thing to remember is that your goal hasn’t changed, you will still reach your specific destination (the lessons you chose to learn).

Reflect back on some of the events in your life that just seemed destined to happen. A person you met or married, a specific job to agreed to or a house you moved into; didn’t it just feel right AT THE TIME? When your heart tells you ‘this is the place to go for now,’ I believe it is a sign of a predestined event where a life lesson has yet to be learned. These lessons are like precious gold nuggets that need to be unearthed in your mind. Be gentle with yourself as you do the mental work to unearth the lesson. Take the time to truly think about why, in retrospect, that particular situation happened? The WAY YOU PROCESS what your have experienced makes all the difference. The lessons you are learning in your life can be viewed as terribly unfair, eliciting anger, resentment and fear or you can allow yourself to feel that pain, recognize the hurt, but most importantly, SEARCH FOR WHAT YOU ARE LEARNING from it. You will know if it is a life lesson if it is one of the hardest things you have ever encountered. Treat yourself with love, do the work to unearth your gold nugget. You deserve it. You have a piece of Divine energy in you. Once you thoroughly process through the reason, eliminating the need to blame others, you will be able to move on with grace, dignity and, most importantly, a heightened sense of self worth. You did everything 100% right with the information you had at the time. After discovering your “gold nugget” on the issue and responding with a deeper belief in yourself and confidence in tomorrow you will be so much wiser and at peace.

The really great news is, once you unearth the nugget, that particular life lesson will not resurface again in your life. Trust me on this, I have had so many similar life lessons that I chose to move through quickly, while I just kept going at the hectic pace I had become used to in my life. What happened? The same lesson came back around to bite me again, again and again. Now I can finally say, “I get it!”