A Cyber-Sabbatical… The Freedom to Heal

When I first started For Gail So Loved the World, I was searching for community.

I was searching for my voice, as a writer, as a spiritual sojourner and as an activist.

I was searching… for healing through the written and spoken word.

I was actually, searching for Jesus, believe it or not.

When I look back over the 100+ posts and dozens of vlogs on YouTube, in the last two years, I realize that I have lived my life inside out.

Exposed.

Naked.

Open.

And I’ve somehow managed to remain respected as a professional in my “day job.” ūüėČ

We get raw sometimes and have no place to take these feelings.

We get lost sometimes and have no idea where we can admit it.

We get real sometimes and feel like no one else is trying it.

My Facebook pages and these posts have been my external process, in hopes that the boundless love that I have for the world could bloom into a community of readers and folks who share light with one another.

And that community has certainly come into fruition in many ways!

Specifically, in the last year, my online community has shared endless memories with me and I have walked with them through many life changes as well.

For me, here are a few highlights of just 2013:

121014_003* I accepted a major promotion at my non-profit.

* I said goodbye to my fur baby, Dre, of 12 years.

* I traveled to LA in order to appear on Our America, face the leader of a deceptive organization by representing survivors of reparative therapy and Christian Fundamentalism.

* My family nursed my mom through a life-changing surgery.

* I published my second book, Enlightened-ish, which discusses the awakening that came through trauma in 2011-2012. (Only to later temporarily pull it from publication until AuthorSolutions could resolve their questionable approach regarding distribution and copyright.)

And now, in only the last few months, I’ve launched a new business in order to support self-published written and spoken word artists, prepared to see my mom relocate out of the area for the betterment of her health and walked a painful path with my body that is leading to at least one surgery…

We have shared… so much.

And the truth¬†is that my vision for my life a few years ago¬†was that I am nothing but a “conduit” for Light and Love. I trusted that no matter how much I was putting “out” there for the world, I would always have an endless supply of creativity, hope and encouragement for others.

Love would flow through me…

Light could move through me…

And as beautiful as this vision has been, I realize now…

I deserve to contain it sometimes, not simply facilitate it.

I am human and in all of my freedoms, what I rarely do is mindfully create some space for me to heal and just ‘be’ for more than a few days.

Now, the funny part is that even in taking a cyber-sabbatical, I will still be working on Teaching Memoirs and I will also be working hard at my non-profit, which fuels my soul in dozens of ways. I will be writing and connecting with anyone who comes across my path and yet, the silence on my blog (aside from events/happenings) will feel so strange. The silence on my Facebook page, even more foreign.

But, like I said in Enlightened-ish (which will be available again soon), self-love is a key ingredient in awakening. I have loved and cared for myself and my own life, but this year has brought me to an awareness of my limits.

And I believe now, that limitations teach us what truly matters.

I am more than a conduit for light and good things – I must also receive, contain and experience fully, in my own body and mind, the pleasure that comes from Love.

pain_body_1I don’t believe we create our dis-ease… but I do believe we must be response-able to it and not simply approach all illness as a mechanical/chemical and ultimately purely physical malfunction in an otherwise healthy existence. In short, I am not responsIBLE for the way my body has processed itself in light of years of good and “bad” stress, but I am response-ABLE to ensure that my limitations are honored.

It’s time I find the Freedom to Heal.

It’s interesting then, isn’t it, that when I first started blogging, I was in search of Jesus….

Why?

Why was I searching for a martyr? A savior-figure? A Healer?

Maybe what I was really searching for, was someone who could love, be loved and still… be human.

Perhaps that is the closet description of any savior figure who has any value at all…

1234469_666161776728688_80315677_nSo instead of Jesus, I found a thirty-something curly-haired, open-hearted activist/pre-school director who tread as gently as possible in the lives of those who engaged in her writings and poetry through an online forum until…

She looked at her cross and said, “Meh, that story is tired.”

And for a few months, she put down her burdens…

And picking up the pace on pleasure.

I will see you again, soon-ish. ūüėČ

Until then, play Cups, listen to this… and know, you are loved, just as you are, without exception.

Namaste, yo

P.S. When you’re ready to Awaken Your Best-Teller and bring your lessons to the world… you can find me here. I’ll be taking a limited number of clients in 2014…

I am Strong. Scrunchie Strong.

Today, I made a striking confession that almost led to the worst thing that can happen in the first world problems of cyber community: Being un-friended on Facebook.

But I took a risk, knowing that it was more important to speak my truth, without shame or fear of judgment. I made it clear that I am my own person, I do not conform to status quo and I will not back down on my rights.

On July 19, 2013, at approximately 11 am, I let it be known that I would, in fact, wear a scrunchie today, without fear of being judged.

Cue gasp, right?

Women who wear scrunchies in public are some of the most demonized of all women. Carrie Bradshaw forever shamed us on the show Sex and the City and ever since that episode when Berger’s writing career unraveled because of her sharp and unnecessary judgment, CVS shoppers have been terrified to walk down the hair product aisle for fear that they would be mistakenly perceived as going in the direction of said scrunchies. Women have joined support groups, discussing their attraction to their former scrunchie-wearing days and some have reportedly shaved their heads in efforts to have no affiliation with hair, simply because of this cultural impression that scrunchies aren’t acceptable hair attire. (And don’t even get me started on the Levitical code regarding elastic and cotton combined.)

It’s been a tough decade, for scrunchie-wearers.

But¬†today, I came out loud and proud about my use of said hair accessories and in honor of scrunchies and how they have served me, I’ve decided to share more about my scrunchie-affection and actual, live¬†photos that show the more intimate details of my scrunchie and me. (Consider this a warning, as some photos will challenge your currently held beliefs about public displays of scrunchie-ness.)

In truth, my scrunchies have outlived even some of my partners and been there with me in times when not much else would hold back my hair. I mean, think about it ladies. Washing the dog? Scrunchie is there. Changing a diaper? Scrunchie in place. On a morning walk? Don’t forget the scrunchie. Random sex-capade at 8 pm after an excitable Happy Hour? Did he mind your scrunchie then? No, he did not.

Scrunchie_Choices

All those things aside, this evening, as I went on my nightly walk, which is designed to keep my back loose, as I work through some complicated pain issues, I started to consider my many companions on my walks. My thoughts… my concerns… my spiritual guides… my goddesses… my angels… my dreams… the pain… and… my scrunchie.¬†As you can see from the first photo, my scrunchie was present when I made choices on my path – A loyal companion, no matter what road I go down.

Scrunchie_Shade

Later, my scrunchie and I were spotted by the police, who almost cited me for inappropriate scrunchie usage with a hat, but I told him I am a Buckeye fan and we exchanged the O-H-I-O chant and he let me go. After he left, I hid in the shade with my scrunchie, contemplating the deeper meaning of shade, comfort and how nutty Ohio football fans can be even in the off-season.

Scrunchie_FlowersIt wasn’t long before I thought, “A Facebook status isn’t enough.¬†It’s time I write about this relationship that I have with my¬†scrunchie.” So I started thinking of all the little places¬†that we go together. Here is a photo of us stopping to smell the flowers. Go ahead, try and tell me the last time you and an actual person stopped to do that? It hasn’t happened, has it? Ahh, but a scrunchie takes risks. A scrunchie makes time for you, doesn’t it? A scrunchie doesn’t rush you because it prefers your company and can stay in the moment with you.

Later, we came upon a weeping willow tree and I thought about a childhood friend myScruncie_Willow sister and I used to visit, whose grandmother had a large weeping willow in her yard. I thought of Mrs. K and how high up her grandchildren climbed. Even my sister made her way to the thinnest branches to sit while I stayed near the bottom, no more than 4 feet off the ground, out of fear. I told my scrunchie my memories of that tree and my scrunchie listened. No reaction, no accusations Рjust listened. Good scrunchie.

Scrunchie_Simplicity

Finally, on my way home. I stopped and considered the simplicity of my walking exercises, the last few months. The pain seems to lessen, if I keep to a regular routine and forego things like sit-down meals, sitting down to write, or basically anything that involves the seated position. It’s a true inconvenience and while my tolerance for pain is apparently quite high, I shirked the suggestion of an epidural and until a better diagnosis is reached, I walk… I have a routine that helps, even when it hurts. Furthermore, my many companions have no opinions about my treatment plan. In fact, one companion told me today, “You are strong. Scrunchie strong.”

There’s a passage in the Bible about being “jars of clay,” and I remember that, upon further contextual analysis (Bible College Degree coming back to haunt me), the reason the “jars of clay” analogy was used was because clay jars were something usual… something ordinary. The writer wanted to send the message that something “typical” or otherwise “commonplace” could be the very container that manifests a more powerful light than anything that had been seen before. I liken it now, to a scrunchie. We, our lives, our sacred journey and yes, even our scrunchies, are “treasures” that exist to show the surpassing, expansive and inspiring Love and Light that exists for us all. (That, my friends is 2 Corinthians 4:7 done hippie Gail-style).

Scrunchie_EstateAnd so, as I gazed upon the Mount Vernon estate, which is the land of my cousin, George Washington, I sat with a mantra, “I am strong. Scrunchie strong.” May you pull it into your daily lives, so that with every ordinary thing you do, you become connected to and more aware of the light that is moving through you…

Through the pain, through the doubt, through the interpretations and through all the judgments that others have about who we are…

Be strong. Scrunchie Strong.

These are my words. Namaste, yo.

P.S. Seriously… stop judging people for how they hold up their hair. I mean… can’t you judge them on their sexuality or something else instead? ūüėČ By the way, my new pre-requisite for dating. Must love dogs… and scrunchies.

~~

Gail is the author of Enlightened-ish and Coming Out of the Closet without Coming Apart at the Seams. She is a hippie pre-school director and advocate, as well as spoken word artist and general badass. She also co-facilitates an online community for survivors of fundamentalist perspectives on homosexuality.

Exodus International, I Forgive You

When you see the end of an era coming upon your soul, resistance is futile… wholeness is¬†the only option.Forgiveness

Exodus International, I forgive you for teaching me that there is a God who is intolerant of me.

Exodus International, I forgive you for pulling me away from my body.

Exodus International, I forgive you for pulling me away from my family.

Exodus International, I forgive you for dividing me from my own mind.

Exodus International, I forgive you for dividing me from my own spirit.

Exodus International, I forgive you for raping my soul.

Exodus International, I forgive you for molesting my identity.

Exodus International, I forgive you…

Not because you have stopped hurting others with your cult tactics.

Not because you aren’t¬†guilty of attempting to control others with ideas about heterosexual supremacy.

But because you taught me how to hate…

And it’s time I surrender that tactic entirely.

Forgiveness is my act of self-love and an act of refusing to hold any space for hate, even hatred for your ways.

I will not have space for hate anymore.

I will not hate myself for being human.

I will not hate God for making me homosexual.

I will not hate people for not understanding how spirituality and sexuality beautifully converge.

I will not hate churches for refusing to honor my commitment to love.

I will not hate this world for being a place where choices are taken away from us.

I will be a person of love.

So, in short…

Exodus International, love really did win out for me.

Because I forgive you for teaching me to hate.

~~

For anyone who has been damaged by the ex-gay movement’s attempt at genocide, know that there is hope and you will move BEYOND being “ex-gay.” www.beyondexgay.com And for anyone who has ever held on too long to an injury to your soul, know that in just wanting to let go, a change will come, the earth will tremble and eventually, forgiveness will find you…

In the News: Exodus shuts down its residential soul-raping facility. http://www.exgaywatch.com/wp/2011/09/love-in-action-suspends-residential-program/

To read more about my most recent transformation regarding ex-gay survival, follow the “ex-gay lie” category on my blog or view this category from my old site.

Straight Supremacist Warning

Portion of "The Rescue" my unfinished painting

Best $11 movie ticket ever.¬†Last night I saw the¬†movie, “The Help.” I laughed. I cried. I cheered. Best thing wasn’t the colorful (pun intended) and brilliantly written dialogue¬†but the beautiful pauses and well-delivered punch lines exchanged among the characters. I don’t do movie reviews but this flick has me itching to pull an Ebert-move and toss up two thumbs to show my approval! So well done and so… well…

Easy to apply to my blog! (I think my friend leaned over at least 2x and said, “This is going to lead a blog post, isn’t it?”)

So, what was I thinking about my blog while enjoying this destined-to-be-Academy-Award-winning new movie?

I was thinking, “What really¬†is the difference between white supremacy and the ex-gay movement?”

Both seek to hinder the progress of the people who are not like them.

Both seek to recruit young white people to their cause.

Both use unethical and sometimes violent tactics to evoke fear and oppress the people who are not like them.

Rather than making a plethora of comparisons, I thought I would simply take the statement that is on the KKK’s website, and replace words related to race with words related to sexual orientation and add¬†“straight” and “gay” a few places. After reading it over, I suggest¬†that Alan Chambers of Exodus International, Michele Bachmann and Ann Coulter get together to approve this new statement as their straight agenda. Let’s be real here…¬†if you are¬†emulating the KKK so why not own up to it and officially connect yourselves to the Klan? Maybe there’s a tax benefit in it for you.

Read it for yourself and tell me if this¬†doesn’t this sound like something out of Michele’s mouth? Hasn’t Alan played a victim when reasonable people have¬†taken a stand¬†against the genocide of Exodus International? (Remember the Apple App?) Doesn’t Ann repeatedly try to usher in support by cheering on her “moral” majority and claiming the gay people have an agenda?

“There is a war against straights. But our people – my straight brothers and sisters – will stay committed to a non-violent resolution. That resolution must consist of solidarity in straight communities around the world. The hatred for our children and their future is growing and is being fueled every single day. Stay firm in your convictions. Keep loving your straight heritage and keep witnessing to others that there is a better straight way than a war torn, violent, wicked, socialist, new gay world order. That way is the straight Christian way – law and order – love of heterosexual family – love of nation. These are the principles of western Christian civilization. There is a war to destroy these things. Pray that our straight people see the error of their ways and regain a sense of loyalty. Repent America! Be faithful my fellow straight believers. ” (Paraphrasing of statement from National¬†Director of the Knights, Pastor Thomas Robb)

So, to be clear… let this post serve as a warning that those who seek to deny rights or create “separate but equal” space for the LGBTQ community in the workplace, churches, homes or communities are no different from the white supremacists who insisted that African-Americans should piss in a different toilet, drink from a different fountain, or proverbially sit in the back of the spiritual bus that is en route to blessing and full inclusion!

We must refuse to call the ex-gay movement an “alternative perspective” or suggest that it is¬†merely a “controversial” discussion (Shame on you, NPR!)

Call it what it is…

The ex-gay movement is no different from the White Supremacy Movement.

It is…

Hate.

~~

Furthermore, nothing should light a fire under true believers in Jesus more than knowing that in the name of your savior, they are proclaiming this hate. Many kudos to organizations such as Believe Out Loud and Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists who are Christians standing on the side of love! Please visit their pages below:

www.facebook.com/believeoutloud

www.facebook.com/pages/Association-of-Welcoming-and-Affirming-Baptists/207481543481