Orlando’s Messages

I have let the shock of last week’s tragic loss of 49 innocent victims, at the hands of a deeply disturbed gunman, settle in. My heart is still very sad. The past week has felt very somber and I was grateful for a busy schedule to keep me focused otherwise I could have been immobilized by grief. One more time we see how precious life can be taken from us, in the land of freedom. Every group of people, from children to every diversity, has been a target of death by an assault weapon. That topic will be a separate blog at some point.

For this blog, I am focusing on the LGBT community to whom were the target. The Pulse was a place of community where the LGBT community felt safe as well as everyone else who wanted to visit. You see, our community opens our door to everyone while doors have and continue to be closed to us. Sad and heartbreaking.
This event allowed many of us to observe reactions and responses by the public, our friends and families. As I listened to news coverage and read articles it was amazing to be part of as well as a recipient of heartfelt outpour of love simply because I was part of the LGBT community. Yet, as the week went on I noticed that about 95% of the heterosexual people in my life including friends and family were silent. There were no calls or texts with any type of checking in or “hey, I’m thinking about you.” While I do not participate in the gay club life anymore, there was a time when going to the local LGBT club was virtually the only place to be “out” with whom I loved with no judgement. Pretty sad yet very true. So this event could have been in any city/town to any of us. As the list of victims and survivors were revealed, there were a large number of heterosexual people at The Pulse. What that says again is that the LGBT doors are open to everyone. Isn’t that the way it should be everywhere for everyone regardless of skin color, gender, sexual preference, religious beliefs, etc.? We are a “conditional” world yet doesn’t God teach us to love unconditionally and do no harm to one another? Where have we gone wrong that we judge everyone where it’s none of our business?

There are many messages from this week’s events which include: our country has a serious problem with gun violence, we need to live life with love, not hate; and the media and politicians need to quiet down long enough to LISTEN. STOP TALKING!!!! We all need to get out of our self-absorbed lives and pay attention to the people we take for granted who we assume will always be there. That’s not the case. Pick up the phone to simply say hello, if texting is your communication mode then write a quick text of hello, or get in the car and take a drive to see someone you love who does not live locally.

I notice that while most heterosexual people in my life love my wife and I there is still that subtle ignoring of our family. Oh yea, it’s okay about us, but there’s no invite for my kids as well as never an acknowledgement for events in their life. That’s pretty conditional, wouldn’t you say??? Unfortunately, when I talk to many of my LGBT friends we share many of these disappointments. The only solution I see is to live life openly, joyfully and with love because our souls are richer for it.

As each day passes, I pray that our world will have more open hearts for diversity of any kind and that we work together to weave more love into our fiber so hate can fade away.

It's a Dogs Life

AdNet has implemented a “bring your dog to work day” that allows us to bring our dogs in occasionally on a Friday. Sometimes it can get a little chaotic at first, but once the dogs calm down there is so much laughter and joy they bring to the workday. There are so many benefits to having an animal, even though the beginning stages can be a little tough, you quickly realize how worth it these animals are. From the loyalty, to how genuinely happy they are see you walk through the door, it really makes coming home from a long day at work that much more enjoyable. I truly believe that dogs were put on this earth to provide companionship and inner healing for humans.

Most people have that undeniable bond with their dogs because they give us the unconditional love and friendship that sometimes you cannot get from humans. It really is amazing to thing how compatible humans and dogs are. Between therapy dogs, Seeing Eye dogs, and other service dogs, it is amazing to see how much both human and dog rely on each other.

Today, I am going to talk about 3 life lessons that everyone can learn from their dog:
1. Practicing Happiness: There is the common phrase “Think Happy, Be Happy”. Sometimes, when you are feeling unhappy, just changing your attitude or the thoughts in your head can do wonders. Dogs exude happiness by wagging their tails, fetch toys, and give us kisses and affection.

2. Be Proud of your Accomplishments: Dogs are constantly seeking out praise and approval from their owners. I know my dog gets so happy and proud when I give her praise that her tail is wagging so much she just exudes being proud. This practice can be tough, but it is OK to give yourself and big pat on the back from time to time. At the end of the day, if you are not proud of yourself, how can you expect anyone else to be?

3. Listen: Dogs are some of the best listeners. They may not understand exactly what we are telling them, but they always provide that patient attention. Sometimes, when people are venting or talking about something, the immediate reaction is to give them advice on what YOU think is right. While this can be beneficial, sometimes it can help even more to just listen and not give any advice at all.

Even though dogs cannot communicate with words, it is amazing that we can still share that strong bond. There is so much to take away from how dogs live their daily life. Dogs live such a simple life and with the chaotic and faced paced society we live in today, sometimes it helps to take a step back and really be present . Dogs never worry about things that have happened in the past or what is coming up in the future, and I truly believe that having your mindset and thoughts in the present goes hand and hand with the happiness we feel.

Overcoming Obstacles

This week Nyle DiMarco won the Dancing with the Stars Mirror Ball Trophy. I have been a huge fan of this show since its inception. This season the winner had one of those special somethings that guided him to victory. Nyle is deaf and has used visual cues and taps from his dancing partner to guide him through the dance routines.

Watching Nyle is like watching a professional dancer who is fully cognizant of each beat of the music. Yet, this amazing man can’t hear a thing. Nyle teaches us to dream big and to overcome obstacles when life puts them in front of you. Nyle originally wanted to be a math teacher yet with his good looks, he was pointed to America’s Top Model and became the first deaf contestant who won the season.

Nyle looked at his disadvantage as an advantage to help the deaf community. The words he used were “redemption, fearless and working hard”. This win was for the deaf community, not him. His intention is to inspire us all to take whatever disadvantage we have which sometimes can be the disadvantage called fear and work towards the goal/dream while having the fear.

I can hear 100% and I am inspired today to relook at some of the things in my life that have held me back. Sometimes that’s as simple as balancing out stress to make sure that one is grounded to allow all that is good in life to come to us. I wonder sometimes if I did something like Dancing with the Stars, what I would be like on the other side. My life would be transformed, I’m sure way beyond being a better dancer. It’s all about the journey.

Leadership is a dance that includes many components similar to an athletic competition. We need the speed to win the short race and the endurance to win the marathon that business often presents. We need to learn new steps, pivot, change routines and always give 100% of ourselves even when our bodies are worn out.

The best leaders learn how to operate at the speed of light while knowing when to be slow and steady. It’s balance yet at no turn can we ever not practice or take a day off because leadership is everywhere in life. We have to be mindful and present every day even when the fear is very much at the forefront. Just like with dancing, one must have trust in their partner to be able to move together effortlessly and as leaders, we must trust our intuition and choices so our teams can be their best and feel like they get to bring home a Mirror Ball Trophy most of the time.

Thanks, Nyle, for showing me that I can still dream big and overcome my fears.

Baby I’m a Star

A few days ago the news came over of the death of the iconic performer, Prince. He was one of my favorite performers and days later, I am still in shock of his loss. It is tragic that in 2016 so many incredible musicians have passed away so young. Many memories are evoked when a major contributor in the music industry leaves us. We can clearly recall where we were when specific albums (yes, I am dating myself) hit #1 or an event in our life where a song was part of the memory. Needless to say, Prince’s sudden death brought back many great memories of the 1980’s when he was rising in popularity.

One of my favorite songs was Baby I’m a Star which blended in after I Would Die 4 You on the Purple Rain soundtrack. At the time of its popularity, I had started a job that was the beginning of my career in recruiting. It was commission driven and one where I had to be motivated each day. Once I heard this song, it was my torch song each morning when I got behind the wheel to drive an hour to work. I would set the cassette player (yes, dating myself yet again) to replay, and for an hour, Baby I’m a Star would blast over and over again. I was young and starting out so didn’t have a lot of extra money. It was my personality and ability to influence that was going to have me be successful. As the song went “I ain’t got no money, but I’m rich in personality”. It was my mantra and definitely impacted me on my road to success.

I loved how Prince pushed the envelope with his lyrics. He was ahead of his time yet when he dropped an inappropriate word, it was alluring, not anger filled as are many of the lyrics in today’s music. Prince had people take notice to the point where his CD’s were labeled with “explicit language”. He opened the door for free expression and he was one of the most talented guitarist in the world. And his wardrobe blended both genders in a smooth way. Perhaps he was the original example of gender fluid. Prince was noted for his “swagger”. No one could imitate him because there was truly one Prince. There was really no drama about him in the newspapers, no inappropriate behaviors, no bad stuff.; just a wild showman and ultra creative artist. How refreshing!!
After his death, we now find out how generous Prince gave of his time, talent and treasures to helping the disadvantaged. He was not one for fanfare and public display of his generosity. He was a stealth behind the scenes using his influence to do good.

A short time ago when David Bowie died in January, I felt the same pang in my heart. These men expressed themselves as artists to the point where people felt uncomfortable because they were different. Yet, in the end, they helped open our minds to appreciating differences and creativity. We may not have dressed like either one of them (oh do I still love purple) but we jammed along to some of their biggest hits. And they gave so much of themselves to do good in the world.

So in honor of Prince, I am blasting Baby I’m a Star again and reminding myself that everyday I’m the star of my own destiny. Thank you Prince for nudging us to Let’s Go Crazy!!

TransGreat

Words like Transformation, Transition, Transport, Transfer are really all about some type of journey or path taken. Transgender is now a very prominent word in our language today. Yet it seems to be conjuring up fear and hate. A transgender person is also on a journey and probably the most important journey of their life to truly be who their soul is calling them to be. It’s not a choice because not honoring “the call” leaves that person much less of who they really want to be in this world. As far as I’m concerned, they are TransGreat!!!

Over the past weeks we have seen the states of Mississippi and North Carolina shun the LGBT and Transgender communities whether it’s in workplace or bathroom rights. Are they really serious that now legislation is taking up tax payers money on where someone can go to the bathroom? How have we become so insensitive and frightened? The unsettling behaviors of politicians are attempting to undo the work that was done during the 1960’s to fight for Civil Rights. I guess we have not finished doing our work because here we are again.
The commentary I am hearing is that the new laws protect people from predators coming into their bathroom. There is plenty of documented evidence about predators in the religious faiths, in youth locker rooms, Congress & Senate, and shall I continue?!!! These categories have been trusted with the care of children and women yet they use their power to violate them. That is a far more urgent issue than bathroom rights.

I have shared such rich interactions with many transgender people and my life is better for it. We are all the same and I am in awe of the trans community’s courage for taking such a stand to be who they are. And I thought my journey was a challenge; well, it’s minor.

We need to take care of each other and not follow the opinions of the fearful and ignorant. You don’t have to be an activist or advocate and you don’t have to join along in conversations that belittle other human beings. You can graciously disagree and not participate. When the fire of hate gets fueled, the flames get larger and larger. If you want to douse the flame, don’t fan it and don’t feed it. Eventually, it will go out. And in this case, it will help those of us who are fighting for LGBT rights know that we are supported by your quiet strength.

To those who are afraid of diversity, I pray that your heart will open and your fear will change to compassion.