The Blue Magnet

For much of my life I have lived with an absurd notion. It goes like this … all the bad things, the unpleasant things, have always happened without warning. The good things that I dreamed of happening never seemed to materialize. The absurd notion that grew out of these two opposing yet symbiotic trains of thought was that since all the bad things that happened to me were things I hadn’t thought about and all the good things that I dreamed about never did come to pass, I needed to reverse the psychology. In other words, I put all the dreams and hopes out of my mind and instead spent my time thinking about all the bad things that could happen so they wouldn’t happen.

Of course, that silly notion didn’t do anything but make me unhappy. That psychological train wreck simply made me a miserable human being. Think about it. If I found myself dreaming of pleasant, happy events I immediately tried to wipe the thought away and began worrying about what evil event I needed to be thwarting by conjuring one up … so it wouldn’t happen.

Then somewhere in my early sobriety I began get the idea that maybe, just maybe, I had been wasting a whole lot of time, but trying to undo years of negative thought processing wasn’t easy, even sober. And then the worst of all unforeseen, never considered events occurred. The woman I had thought would bury me, died after more than twenty months of battling brain cancer. See, I was right. The bad stuff is always what you didn’t see coming.

That was sixteen years ago, and in the meantime, I have learned a lot … about expectations. The most important thing to know about expectations is that for the most part they are an exercise in futility.

When Marilyn died, I thought that I would immediately fall in love again, but with a few momentary exceptions, like the spur of the moment trip to Korea to see my number two, high school senior year sweetheart, nothing romantic materialized. Not infrequently people would ask me when or if I was going to start dating. To keep from appearing needy and/or desperate I generally replied that after all I was a bit of a bitter pill to swallow, which wasn’t all that far from the truth. Then I generally added that it would take someone extremely special to fall in love with me.

I remembered Aunt Helen’s advice following my divorce when she told me that I wouldn’t find the woman God intended me to spend my life with until I was content to live alone. After trying to force contentment on myself for the better part of a year I gave up. Then within moments of finding total contentment in the alone state of being, Marilyn appeared.

After she died it took some time of course but again I found myself content to be alone and to be honest, after 16 years of being alone, I wasn’t really looking for another relationship … when it happened.

There I was, minding my own business, doing what I was paid to do for Home Depot 469 when she sat down across the desk from me and announced that she was thinking about remodeling her kitchen. How did she go about getting that done? For reasons unrelated to me or my performance as a kitchen designer she ultimately went to the competition for her kitchen. But, in the meantime, she had become something of an increasingly consistent presence in my thoughts.

On hearing the message she left on my voicemail at work, telling me that she had decided to go to the competition for her kitchen, I was first dismayed, then unsettled. I was dismayed because I had already told my boss that I was closing the sale that day and then unsettled because I soon realized that there was more to it than just losing a sale. I had been looking forward to spending more time with her. Experience in similar situations over the years had proven that when a customer chooses a competitor over you, they will generally stop answering the phone. Nevertheless, as soon as I heard the message I called her. Of course, she didn’t answer.

The message I left was that I understood her decision completely and didn’t blame her for her decision, which is the same one I would have made under similar circumstances. I then asked if she would call my manager and explain why she made that decision. I had told him that she was coming in that day to make the purchase. Roughly a half hour later he sat down at my desk and told me that she had called him and explained her decision. In the interim, the reality of most likely not seeing her again was the unsettling part.

You see, I had come to look forward to our visits. I wasn’t thinking about any more than spending time with someone whose company I totally enjoyed. When I thought about her I could hear her laugh and that made me smile. I thought “I could really enjoy doing things with her; taking a trip with her, going to a show with her, watching a sunset with her. That’s all. I had no romantic notions about her at all. I just saw her as a potential best friend.

So, a couple of weeks went by. I can’t tell you why I made no attempt to contact her. Maybe it was a lingering fear that in spite of the fact that she had told my manager that I had nothing to do with her decision to go elsewhere for her new kitchen, she would reject any attempt to establish a friendship. But, after a couple of weeks of beating myself up over it, I picked up the phone … and she actually answered.

When I asked if she would like to have lunch sometime she said yes. Two weeks later we met for lunch between my church and work at 3:00. (As I sit here writing this she is on the couch next to me correcting everything I say about our early meeting.) We made future plans for coffee but some unforeseen circumstance on her end precluded that. Instead we went to Mimi’s for lunch. (Now she tells me she hated Mimi’s but because she had picked Culver’s she agreed to Mimi’s) I have absolutely no memory of what we talked about. I just remember watching her walk to her car. I asked her what her memory of our parting was and for once it was the same. Amazing!

Neither one of us remembers exactly how long it was before I asked her to dinner. She had a gift certificate to Red Robin and there was one nearer to me, so that’s where we decided to go … she insisted on driving. That, in and of itself, was a new experience for me. I don’t remember what either of us ate, but I do remember that she paid for dinner … another new experience.

She drove me home and I asked if she wanted to come in for a minute. Simple truth is I just didn’t want the evening to end. I was totally enjoying her company without a romantic notion in my head … seriously! We must have talked for at least an hour and a half before she said it was time for her to head for home. It was just a hug. A parting hug between friends. She says that I kissed her on the forehead. As the lyrics in the KISS version of The Crystals original hit from 1963 go … “And then she kissed me.”

Aside from surprise, I can’t begin to put into words the overwhelming rush of emotion I experienced at that moment. I was instantly transported from simple attraction to a world of emotions I have no memory of ever experiencing in my life. To say that I was befuddled is a mild approximation of what I felt at that moment. The simple fact is that I felt my heart being snatched away in a sense that left me feeling as though I never wanted it back.

In the past sixteen years, I have on three occasions briefly fallen in love, but nothing to compare to this. Laughter has never been a big part of my life, until now. She makes me laugh. I don’t remember ever laughing on such a consistent and joyful level in my life.

All the dreams and aspirations for my dotage years simply evaporated. The desperation that I had begun to feel about Dear Mom and Dad never being more than a vanity project, vanished without so much as an emotional whimper. God, in his infinite wisdom, placed in my life the very last person I envisioned being the answer to all my prayers. And yet, I simply cannot imagine being in love with anyone but her. She is, what I can only describe, as reverently irreverent. Everything in her life is precision, orderly disorder. What I first thought was random placement of her cherished possessions in her home is actually a very well orchestrated arrangement … which precisely describes her and her essence.

Trying to describe here what she means to my life and the feelings I have for her is terribly inadequate to the reality. Simply put, I am now and I believe for the remainder of my life, totally and completely in love with God’s perfect selection of the perfect woman for me. We have laughed over the thought that we are like the opposite ends of a bar magnet; one end north the other end south. She is a lifelong east coast democrat and I’m … well the other end of that magnet. That was the thought behind a small Christmas present I gave her; two bar magnets painted red on one end with a “G” on it, and blue on the other end with a “B” on it.

She is a very private person and not given to publicity (another aspect of our “magnet” like attraction for one another).  For that reason, I am not publicizing her name. Those of you who know me well, know who she is and that is enough. Just think of her as “The Blue Magnet!” because she is a veritable people magnet. She draws people to her wherever she goes and I’m reasonably certain that when it happens that those people will never forget the encounter. I have seen her strike up conversations with absolute strangers in the grocery store and the next thing I know she’s helping them find something they need but can’t locate.

She is, in the words of my favorite Nat King Cole song which was a duet with his daughter, Natalie “Unfortgetable” … that’s what you are.

Bishop Eric … and My Mud Hut in Africa

What I’m about to discuss you may have seen before but I’m revisiting the subject with a definite purpose in mind. In my early high school years, I began to actually examine how, what I was learning and studying in what we used to call Sunday School (don’t have a clue what they call it now) was going to affect my life. I was affected deeply enough that for a time I actually considered becoming a Congregational minister. It seemed a rather easy life to me; listening to people’s woes and complaints, then giving sage advice on how to fix their lives. Then for one hour on Sunday, wearing a black robe and telling people how God expected them to conduct their affairs.

But then somewhere along the line I was exposed to the life of a missionary in Africa and that exposure changed my entire outlook. You see, my understanding of the two roles in Christendom, that of the stateside minister and that of a missionary in deepest darkest Africa were worlds apart in more than the geographical sense. What I saw in the life of the Congregational minister was a life of relative ease. What I saw in the life of a missionary to Africa was a life of tremendous sacrifice and commitment. The effect that had on me was not one of encouragement but rather one of discouragement.

In short … I came to believe that if I really turned my life over to Christ, became totally committed to being a full-fledged Christian, that I would be relegating my future to a mud hut in Africa … and that is not what I wanted to do with my future. I wanted to be pig farmer who happened to be a Christian … most of the time. It wasn’t until I was in my third month of sobriety that I received a piece of advice that I wish I’d had years before.

When I came face-t0-face with the third step of Alcoholics Anonymous, “Made a decision to turn my will and my life over to the care of God, as I understood Him” my mind went back to the mud hut in Africa notion. Thankfully, a perceptive Larry B, my sponsor, did as Granny would have said, jerked a not in my tail. He said, “That takes someone exceptional to do that. And besides He (God) probably has something else in mind for you.” Nevertheless, I have remained in awe of anyone, accustomed to the luxuries people in this country take for granted, who could give it all up for the equivalent of today’s mud hut in Africa. And that finally brings me to the point of this message.

There is a man I have come to know as Bishop Eric. He has devoted his life to “The Good News” and has affected lives all over the world. He has traveled the world planting the seeds of salvation and forgiveness for most of his adult life all the while maintaining a full time “civilian” job. A year and a half ago Bishop Eric gave up that lucrative “civilian” job and moved to “a mud hut in Africa” to found The Hope Center in Nigeria.

While it’s a bit of a stretch to call where he is living and conducting the affairs of The Hope Center a mud hut in Africa, it’s not much of a stretch. The accommodations were primitive in the beginning and much of what he has accomplished has been a true labor of love. The thing you, my readers, need to realize is that in countries like Nigeria in central Africa, being gay is not generally acceptable. Many families, upon learning of their child’s sexuality will disown them, shun them and in extreme cases murder them to avoid public humiliation. So, it shouldn’t take much imagination to realize what a burden Bishop Eric has taken upon his shoulders.

If you haven’t figured it out by now, I am in total awe of the man. He embodies everything that I felt I would never have the courage or the will to be. I don’t agree with him on all things, but what I don’t agree with him on pale in comparison to the respect and admiration I have for him.

So how does he manage the day to day operations of his “mud hut in Africa”? It isn’t easy and he needs financial support desperately. His needs aren’t overwhelming by our standards, but by Nigerian standards they are mountainous. I have in my possession a copy of his monthly budget and budgets for the projects he dreams of implementing. They are next to nothing by our standards but in Nigeria they are a lot.

My purpose in sharing this is to inspire you, my readers, to consider contributing to the financial requirements and investments needed to aid Bishop Eric in his mission to give hope and a future to the people of Nigeria who are most often overlooked at best or shunned and persecuted at worst because of their emotional make up.

Check out his website at www.TheHopeCenterNigeria.org  You can donate through the web site and if you want to know more about their financial need and plans please contact me and I will send you a detailed list of monthly expenses as well as proposed improvements. You can reach me through Facebook or at georgialeemcgowen@cox.net .

 

What the Heck Just Happened

I have been silent for a while … Again!! But no longer. A week ago our nation went to the polls to elect a successor to President Obama. I went to the polls before work and cast my ballot. I didn’t hear any reports during the day but before I went I was discouraged based on what all the reports up to that time were telling me that HRC was going to be the next president.
When I arrived home I turned on the television expecting to hear that it was all over and that our country had elected its first female president. And that, to me, was a dismal and depressing thought. Not because I was against a woman for president any more than I had been against an African American for president eight years earlier. It was a dismal and depressing thought because of the character flaws I saw in Hillary Rodham Clinton, and even more dismal and depressing because so many of my fellow Americans seemed to be so oblivious to the flawed character of the woman.
Before you get carried away with a litany of flaws in Donald Trump, in particular, the accusations of sexual predator, I want to remind you that the only verifiable accusation was in the Hollywood Tonight hot mic conversation with the show’s host. And might I also remind you that the only “character” flaws in those accusations were of a nature that hardly rose to the level of HRC’s malfeasance in office and corruption that was becoming more and more evident every day.
But that isn’t my main concern here, or to my intended point. I suggest that for a real and definitive understanding of the basis for my political point of view, you start by looking at the demonstrations that have been occurring around the country since the election. I have watched the interviews of demonstrators and what I am left with is an image of ignorant and self-centered mobs of people who are the result of two-plus generations that have been educated by a largely socialistic education system. They have no clue to what our history really is.
The history (when taught) they have been fed is one of a cruel and unjust people who have acquired what they have by taking it from others. The reason the people who feed that line to poorly educated, morally void “young skulls full of mush” is due their own failure to take advantage of what has been laid before them. They have devoted their lives to telling others how they think the world should be rather than how it is. In other words, the education system in our country has been taken over by a socialistic group known as the NEA … National Education Association. The NEA is nothing more than a labor union which unfortunately has actually become the most dangerous and the most powerful labor union in our country.
Regardless of what the NEA publicizes as their goal, the result is that now two, going on three, generations of people who have been fed a steady diet of what I call “non-responsibility.” In other words, whatever happens to you in life is never your fault. It is always the fault of someone else, generally the fault of people who expect you to eventually grow up and in rather crude but to the point words … grow a set.
Parents who have actually taken stock of what their children are being fed in school are the ones who are either home schooling their children or the reason that charter schools have become so popular in large segments of our society. It’s called taking control of your own life and as Granny would have said … “use your head for something besides a hat rack!”
The American people, as a whole, are a generous and compassionate people, but their generosity and compassion has reached its limits. The education system which has taught that the government is the arbiter of where that generosity and compassion should be applied has finally been exposed for what it is … the support system of a different kind of slavery. Slavery means that one group or segment of a society controls every aspect of the lives of another for the sole benefit of the slave owners.
When our own civil war ended, hundreds of thousands of slaves were suddenly freed to live and direct their own lives. What gets overlooked is the fact that thousands of them didn’t want to leave their bondage. They had never been taught and therefore had no idea how to cope for themselves; how to take responsibility for their own lives. Again in my opinion, the demonstrators marching in the streets of our cities are the result of all those years of the NEA indoctrinating our young people to the notion that they are not responsible for their own lives, and now they are afraid that Donald Trump is going to make them assume that responsibility.
The agitators are accomplishing what they want by an age-old tactic of repeating a lie often enough that it becomes the truth. In this case, the lies are that Donald Trump is a bigot, which he isn’t; a misogynist which he isn’t; a sexist, which he definitely isn’t. What he is, is a threat to the “plantation owners” and their overseers because he is telling the slaves “we are going to free you to pursue your own futures in the manner that you decide is best for you. And, we are going to do that by providing an environment free of the restraints of the past which have kept you down on the plantation.”
Alexis de Tocqueville wrote soon after the war of independence, and I paraphrase; “The great American experiment will last until a majority of the population realizes they can vote themselves an income from the national treasury.”
That is exactly what the “Plantation owners” have convinced the general population of. Last week the rest of the population stripped the “Plantation owners” of their power by using the basis of our constitutional foundation, the electoral college, to do so.
Thankfully, our founding fathers realized the dangers of pure democracy, which is nothing more than mob rule by ballot, and created a democratic representative republic.
As a result, the people who know how to work for a living, who want to work for a living, who want to direct their own lives, who want the government to do only what it was intended to do, which is to provide the safe environment for them to do so, and the people who are tired of things the way they have become … those people have spoken.

One is silver and the other gold

I have been posting about friends recently. No particular reason that I can point to really. It’s just that friends have been on my mind a lot recently. Is it a natural progression because I am now ankle deep in my seventies? I assume that has something to do with it, but there’s more.

People who live relatively normal lives because they are born with bodies that match their gender identity are fortunate. They generally don’t know the feeling of rejection by the people in their lives due to something beyond their control. Before you go off on a rant about having control over the issue, bear this in mind; we all have control over our actions but control over emotions is a different matter. Emotions have a life of their own, and those are what cause the most grief in the life of anyone who is born with a body that doesn’t match their emotional set.

When I finally came face to face with that unorthodox set of emotions, I also came face to face with friends, and family too, who couldn’t see beyond the appearance to the spirit behind the screen. I soon found myself faced with a sorting process. Sorting out the relationships, both new and old became a painful exercise.

I have old friends that I’ve known, literally all my life. Jeanie and I were born in the same hospital room in the Texas Panhandle in 1944. Roger I’ve known since I was 4 years old. Vince and Connie since I was 9. Denny and Candy since high school. These friends are people who have stuck with me through all the chaos of redefining my person.

Family on the other hand is an entirely different story. A sad story but true. The closer the relationship, it seems, the more difficult the process of coming to grips with who I have revealed myself to be. The 2 oldest children haven’t spoken to me since the publication of Dear Mom and Dad; each for their own reasons; misguided as I deem those reasons to be. One first cousin is understanding and accepting the other 2 have pretty much disapproved. My only brother and only sister have more or less, followed the lead of the 2 disapproving cousins. Again, each for their own reasons. So, what am I left with?

Friends! At the close of my last blog I quoted a little ditty that we used to sing at camp. “Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver the other gold.” If I could convert all the silver and gold I have in friendships to hard currency I could retire and live comfortably for the rest of my life. The older I get the more precious that currency becomes, and it is never more evident than when I lose one of those gold coins like I did earlier this week.

I spoke of Daryll in a Facebook entry earlier this week. Tuesday morning, last week I awoke and reached for my phone, still pretty much in a stupor, to check the time. I inadvertently dialed his number. When I realized what I’d done I immediately canceled the call. Within a minute he called me back.
We hadn’t spoken in months. I hadn’t bugged him because I assumed he was getting on with life and building his fabricating business. Over the course of our 10-year friendship, Daryll had bailed me out of trouble, mostly vehicle trouble any number of times, always coming to my rescue with a tow or a battery or tires. He even set up an online parts business for me to run at one point.

We talked for the better part of a half hour and through the conversation I learned that his health wasn’t the best; that the Arizona heat was beginning to wear him down. He talked about closing up shop here and moving to Boise Idaho next year. But, I didn’t realize how bad his condition was until first thing in the morning, the day before yesterday, when once again my phone rang and it was his name on the caller id. But it wasn’t him. It was his wife.

“Georgia, it’s Vonda. Daryll passed away on Sunday. I need your help.”

It was like a bugler blowing reveille 6 inches from my ear. Death or the reality of impending death never comes gently to any door. That is a hard reality for anyone, especially for me to face. Up to the time Marilyn died, I had never, not one single time, lost anyone close to me. Daryll was not what I would classify as close, though we shared things that few understand. But he was a solid 24 carat gold friend and his death has shaken me to the core.

His death has brought home to me the very fragile nature of life and how easily it can be shattered. It’s only been a few weeks since a member of our church family suddenly and unexplainably lost her 12-year-old son. He just became ill and died one day.

These circumstances always remind us of that fact, but how often do we awake each morning and treat everyone in our sphere with the tenderness that we would if we knew that would be the last time we would ever be together? From my own experience, I would surmise that the answer to that question would be … never. But it should be “every time” shouldn’t it?

Who is sitting next to you right this minute, on the phone with you, right this minute, that you have given the slightest thought to the possibility that it might be the very last time? Would you be saying, thinking, feeling what you are at this moment if you knew it was the last moment?

At this point in history, the radio and television ads for precious metals and the importance possessing them are as numerous as the ads for beer, maybe more numerous. So how about the next time you see or hear one of those ads, why don’t you give some thought to the silver and gold people in your life and what you need to do to make sure they know that they are safe in your heart? And, never take their presence for granted.

Christine …

There have been, in my past, and I suppose will be in my future, moments, events, things, happenings if you will, that go on my list of things to ask Abba when I am at last face to face with him. One of those “things” is going to be, “What were you thinking on April, 14th 2007 when you woke me from an evening nap and suggested I go to the Cash Inn in Phoenix?

You see, what awaited me there was an introduction to someone I would have never in a million, no make that a billion years, have expected God to place in my life. She snuck up on me so to speak. Two friends invited me to join them at their table, which I did and we went through the usual “How you been? What’s up in your life?” banter. I don’t remember how many minutes passed that way but it couldn’t have been many. There was a tap on my left shoulder and when I turned to see who it was, thinking it must be another friend, I found myself looking into the green eyes of an adorable little blonde who asked, “And who are you?” And thus, it began.

As the evening progressed, the world shrunk to that small area the two of us, Christine Curtin and Georgia, occupied there next to the dance floor. Other than the Saturday nights when I would later be employed there at the Cash Inn, I have never stayed till closing … except that night. Several weeks later, the friend she had accompanied to the bar that night, told me that she thought she thought she was going to have to pry us apart when the bar closed. Needless to say, we exchanged phone numbers and promises to connect the next day.

At that moment, I was head over heels in love with whom I have come to refer to as “the little green-eyed blonde.” As it turned out that wasn’t the relationship which developed. I can say with clarity that what we have now didn’t develop overnight. It has taken most of the intervening nine years for that to happen.

In that time, we’ve learned a great deal about each other and we have gone through a period of drought in our relationship. In other words, we ceased communicating for nearly nine months over a misunderstanding that should have never occurred … but it did.

I’ve learned that, first and foremost, Christine is a loving, caring woman who puts family first then friends. She is a tough business woman who has built a thriving business virtually on her own. She hasn’t been without her own personal challenges. Her own battle with alcohol is one that she turned to for help when it had taken its final toll on her life. She is an overcomer if I ever knew one, and though it took a few starts and stops she has overcome the one thing that had the potential to bring her down.

She has done more to support me in my effort to promote “Dear Mom and Dad” than anyone else and for that support I am eternally grateful. That’s not the only support either. Thanksgiving weekend of 2007, I asked her if I ever made the decision to transition fully, would it make any difference in our relationship? Her response not only, “Of course not.” And then she added that if I made that decision she would go with wherever I needed to go and hold my hand for as long as I needed her. Nearly two years ago now, when I called and asked it the promise was still good, her response was simply, “Of course. When and where?”

I still don’t have a clue why God put this Little green-eyed blonde “atheist” in my life, considering what the difference in our spiritual lives is, but the fact is that she is here, and I believe she always will be. If I have learned nothing else from her it’s this: You don’t have to have a Christian belief to have a Christian heart.

I love you Christine Curtin. You are a friend I will always cherish. When I was a child I learned a little sing-song verse that goes like this: “Make new friends but keep the old. One is silver and the other is gold.” You began as silver but have become solid 24 carat gold.

YouTube video text “Why This “Tranny” is voting for Trump

I am Georgia Lee McGowen, Author, Designer and otherwise Jacqueline of all trades.

I am normal and I’m not what you might think of as normal.

I am a registered Republican … I’m an extremely conservative registered Republican.

I’m an extremely conservative registered Republican Christian.

I’m not supposed to be a registered Republican or an extremely conservative registered Republican Christian because of the part of me you might not think of as normal.

You see, I am also what the world labels a transsexual. In other words, I was born George but now I’m Georgia. That is supposed mean that I am a progressive liberal Democrat like the majority of the LGBT … Q community. But I’m not.

Why not?

Reason #1. I believe that government should be limited to providing a standing army to protect us from foreign entities that would seek to harm us. Beyond that, facilitating, not providing, means of communication and mobility should be the extent of our government. If that makes me sound like a libertarian … so be it, but I’m still a registered Republican.

Reason #2. The basis for the democrat party is a belief that only an all-powerful government is capable of making intelligent decisions affecting my life; that whatever wealth I should be able to accumulate in my lifetime through my own efforts or those of my family predecessors, is not mine to distribute as I see fit, but rather for an all-powerful Washington to use to buy votes.

Reason #3. I do not see the welfare and social programs of government, supported and advanced by the Democrat party, as having a Christian element. Christ didn’t say that we should give unto Caesar so that Caesar could distribute the wealth and care for the poor. It’s my opinion that Christians who support government expansion and welfare are doing so to absolve themselves of the responsibility placed on us by Christ, to aid the poor from our personal resources, which by the way, would be more than plentiful if we were only taxed to the extent outlined in Reason#1. From my Christian viewpoint I see government welfare as a way of forcing everyone to be Christian generous. And I don’t see Christ in that proposition at all.

Reason #4. Although I am not happy with a whole boat load of politicians who claim to be Republican (Rush calls them RINOs, Republicans In Name Only) I am pragmatic enough to realize that they are generally more inclined to support my view of the way things should be done than the views of the Democrat party. And further more I believe that with a real leader in the white house, RINOs are wishy washy enough to do what he wants, if for no other reason that self-preservation.

Those are my primary reasons for adhering to the Republican premise of restricted government. In closing, I want to address those “principled” conservatives who claim to stand on principle when they not only refuse to endorse or support our party’s nominee, they are downright mean and nasty about him. You know who you are, Lindsay Graham, Glenn Beck, Bush 41, Bush 43, Bush who wanted to be Bush 45, Mitt Romney, John Kasick … Go ahead and put your self-centered, egotistical principles ahead of your country’s future. Principles like that are not principles at all. They’re temper tantrums disguised as principles. Principles in this case means putting the national wellbeing ahead of your own petty notions of so called principles.

Donald Trump wasn’t my first choice either, and I chastised him publicly on Facebook for his temperamental and boorish behavior during the debates, but there is something far more important at stake in our country than my personal preferences. Our nations survival is literally at stake here. We didn’t go from an economic powerhouse with a military feared by the entire world which made it possible for us to go about our lives in sure safety, to the laughing stock of the world overnight. It has taken years of wrongheaded politicians, mostly democrats, but some republicans as well, voting the easy path to get us where we are today.

Mr. Trump isn’t a savior … but he is a safety brake on our national downhill plunge. He is the only thing between a free nation of laws and a nation of whimsical supreme court justice appointees who make decisions based on personal ideologies, while ignoring the very intent of our founders when they established our constitutional rights. For that one reason alone we cannot afford 4 to 8 years of Hillary Clinton. No nation is any stronger than the foundation on which it is built.

The foundation of our country is our constitution. The supreme court is the final arbiter of disagreements between parties, and the intent of our founders was that the outcome of those disagreements would be decided by 9 people, based on the facts, in light of the intent of the constitution as it pertained the disagreement. Decisions based on the personal preferences as to what a judge thinks the constitution should say or mean are destructive to the very fabric of our founding document.

I am not a genius. I am a person who relies on common sense applied to the right and wrong judgement of choices which I’m faced with each and every day. My common sense tells me that our nation is at a crossroads and the choice we as a people make next month will determine whether or not I, and others like me, will continue to have the freedom to live our lives as we feel God intended us to live them.

I have found most conservative Christians willing to listen when I explain the issues involved in leading my life the way I do. Progressive liberals on the other hand generally shut me down when the subject of politics comes up. Progressive liberalism though it tends to defend my community now, has no moral compass that assures me it will defend us in the future.

And … if Trump doesn’t work out, we can always revert to the slippery slope of progressive liberalism next election.

As I said in the beginning … “I’m not supposed to be a registered Republican … I’m not supposed to be an extremely conservative registered Republican Christian.” … But I am. And I’m voting for Mr. Trump.

Regina

In the last four-plus years I’ve discussed a number of different subjects, most of which involve gender identity. I’ve also wandered into the realm of politics on occasion, especially in the last year or so. Most of the time I have talked about myself and my own ideas, emotions and interests. On the rare times when I’ve discussed other people it’s been about family, with the rare occasion that Caitlyn Jenner has been the subject. I have to admit that there is one person whom I have not discussed but who deserves attention so that’s who I’m going to tell you about this time.

My first awareness of Regina Gazelle-Wells was when she appeared on the cover of ECHO Magazine in Phoenix. She had been named Woman of the year by ECHO for 2008. The reason for that distinction was an extremely appropriate one. She had founded the first home for trans-gendered men and women in transition with a 501-3c tax exempt designation.

My first thought at the time was “That’s a really cool idea.” And it was a “really cool” idea. I just didn’t realize how cool. I have never been one to insert myself into any situation that I’m not invited into, so I simply watched from a distance for several months.

But then at a church potluck, on the occasion of the 4th anniversary of the founding New Foundation Christian Fellowship, in late May of 2009 I saw Regina sitting outside in the backyard and decided this was my chance. The main intention at first was just to be able to tell her that I admired what she was doing so I sat down next to her and after introducing myself we struck up a conversation. That conversation opened my eyes to a world that I’d never known existed. By the end of the afternoon I was totally impressed, but not nearly as impressed as I would eventually be.

Before we parted I got Regina’s phone number and address and had volunteered to help in any way I could. Within a week I was helping her organize her office and records which had been badly ignored for some time. In the process, Regina and I got to know more about each other and the more I knew about her the more impressed I was. The world is rife with people who have overcome adversity to become mentors and examples of rising to high levels of accomplishment in the world of alternate gender and sexual identity. Regina is, as I learned, exceptional.

When Regina eventually became aware of my literary contributions to various gender focused publications and the fact that I had completed my memoir she asked me if I would consider writing her biography. I felt that it was important for me to agree to do it. And so, we began.

Once a week I would show up at her home and sitting at the kitchen table I would take notes as fast as I could while she talked about her life. The more she talked the more I was awed by her … and the source of the dream she was struggling to keep alive. There were days when she would struggle to maintain her composure. The day came when she simply said, “I can’t do this anymore … for now.” Memories that she had kept buried for years had dredged up emotions that were just too painful at the time.

Soon after that she announced that she had turned management of T.I.H. over to someone she felt she could trust with the mission and she headed for Los Angeles.

In her absence I began putting the bits and pieces of her life together in some semblance of order as accurately as I could. What I eventually had was the story of a young boy who felt that the body he had, was not the body he felt comfortable in. He began sneaking out of the house late at night in his sister’s clothes and walking the streets of Watts, California. Eventually, Regina was caught by her mother once too often and in a self-righteous Pentecostal fit of anger her mother threw her out on the streets of Watts with not much more than the clothes on her back.

Regina was a survivor and survive she did in spite of the obstacles she faced. She did whatever she had to, to survive and that was generally not within the scope of things legal. She went from jail to jail from situation to situation, from coast to coast, relationship to relationship for years. Each time she was sent to jail she was thrown in with the male populations where she was physically and sexually abused continuously. Generally, after being released from jail she was sent to halfway houses where, again she was housed with men who continued the abuse. That roller coaster existence continued for years until she finally ended up in prison in Phoenix.

While there, she learned that her best friend had died. It was like the final straw on the camel’s back. She felt that she just couldn’t go on. A fellow inmate contacted Pastor Patrick Stout at Community Church of Hope in Phoenix and told him there was someone who really needed help. With the help of appropriate scriptures and time Pastor Patrick helped Regina realize that her gender identity was not a sin, but a gift.

By the time her sentence was up Regina had given up the life she’d been leading and a dream had replaced the desperation that landed her in prison. The dream was a halfway house, a home for transgendered men and women who were down on their luck and in transition; a place where they could live in safety until they were ready to take on the world as the people God intended them to be.

Accomplishment of that dream was the reason she was ECHO’s Woman of the Year. T.I.H. suffered without her personal guidance and eventually closed down but true to her character she is reviving the dream. In the time I have known her she has become a close friend; a friend that has helped me through some tough decisions with a wisdom that is always surprising … and perfectly stated. Her life experiences, her faith and indomitable spirit make her the perfect person to lead that mission of helping others who are where she has been.

If you want to know more about Unity House T.I.H. visit the web site www.unityhousetih.org  As with any undertaking of this type, money and personal involvement are always in short supply. Need I say more? You know what to do, so please do it and share this story with everyone in your address book.

P.S. We are back to work on her biography.

The Price We Pay …

There’s a subject which is discussed at meetings of trans support groups frequently, but isn’t often broadcast to those outside the community. That subject is the reaction of families and friends to our decision to live our lives according to our inner gender identity.

The reaction of family and close friends is more often than not, totally unpredictable but it’s my belief that much of the reaction is the result of the way we go about breaking the news.

People who just blurt out that they are no longer Marty but now Mary; no longer Mary but now Marty, and do so without regard to the emotional turmoil that the announcement is going to cause, drastically reduce the chance of any level of acceptance.

In my own case, which I describe in detail in DM&D, the way that my existence came to light in my marriage created a somewhat unusual circumstance compared to many of the situations I’ve come across. Be that as it may, the unusual situation didn’t make it any easier for our bride deal with the fact that I was part and parcel of the package she fell in love with and married. For my part, I thought she should have been delighted with this new best girlfriend who wanted to share her clothes and makeup. Short sighted? Oh, hell yes. And obliviously ignorant? Oh, hell yes again.

I’m not saying that I didn’t care about her feelings. I’m saying that I didn’t understand her feelings. It took me years to finally come to that level of comprehension about what she must have been feeling. Sadly, it wasn’t until after she passed away that I was finally able to reach that point in my level of understanding; was finally able to put the pump on the other foot, as it were.

Soon after Marilyn’s death I was at a meeting of one of the groups that I had become a apart of, when I came face to face with the other side of the coin. The group up to that point had been exclusively male-to-female. On this particular evening a relatively young and not unattractive woman was in attendance and made it known that she was transitioning from “Mary to Marty”. On an academic level I could totally accept and understand her decision. But, on a strictly emotional level my gut reaction was, “Why in the hell would you want to be what I was trying to not be?” What must her husband be going through?

And that was the moment … the moment when I finally realized what I had unknowingly put the one person who had loved me more than any other person had in my life, through. It there was ever a moment when I would have given my life to be able to turn back the clock and redo everything from a new perspective that was the moment.

The  2002 HBO movie “Normal” with Jessica Lange and Tom Wilkinson is an amazingly true to life depiction of the manner in which many spouses and family’s learn of the existence of “her/him”. It is also an accurate depiction of the way a normal spouse reacts  upon learning the truth. In the case of the couple depicted in “Normal” the wife eventually, lovingly, though reluctantly, accepts the person her husband has always been emotionally. It happens that way in real life, but not usually. I highly recommend the movie to anyone who is trying to understand the issues inherent in late in life disclosures of this nature.

I have no idea how life would have been different had I seen it through that lens; had she survived the cancer which took her way too early in life. I only know that it would have most likely turned out much different and it makes me so sad.

Since then I have met a lot of people who are dealing with how to cope with the late in life awareness of gender identity conflict in the context of marriage and family. More often than not the same selfishness that I was guilty of rears its ugly head. What makes it even more ugly is the fact that unlike the presence of love that kept my marriage intact, self-centeredness of the person takes precedence over family and marriage. The result is a broken family; children irreparably hurt by the thoughtless actions of a parent who puts their own “happiness” ahead of those who loved them the most.

In my own situation, my two oldest children have refused to speak to me since the publication of DM&D, each for their own and totally different reasons. It saddens me no end for them to feel that way. I do appreciate the fact that they would both prefer to have “Dad” back on a permanent basis, but to totally cut me off and refuse any attempt to understand me or my decisions is nonetheless painful.

My message to any who would listen, and the message I begin every presentation I make to the groups I am asked to speak to, is this: If you or anyone you know, has even an inkling that gender identity is doubtful, figure it out before you have a family to be destroyed by the issue. Life will be so much happier and productive if the question is resolved early in life rather than later. If necessary, I beg of you to seek counseling to help avoid decisions and actions that are irretrievable and all too often end in the taking of one’s own life.

Many of the decisions in this area of our lives are irreversible so proceed with caution. Stop, take a deep breath before taking each step. Taking a little bit longer to act will not hurt anyone and will ultimately lead to a decision that one can live happily with for the rest of ones life.

Make the decision an investment in happiness … not a price to pay.

A Year On the South Bank of the Rubicon

Has it really been one year? Apparently so, and I have to admit that there was an unexpected rush of negative emotion the moment I set foot on the south bank of the Rubicon. I was aware of the possibility of that happening but I really didn’t think it would. Even though I was aware that regret could occur I didn’t expect it to rear its ugly head the instant I stepped out of the water. However, metaphorically speaking I polished my armor, picked up my sword and shield and set off for the imperial city.

It has been an absolutely amazing journey and much of what’s happened has been due to “Bruce” Jenner’s very public and visible transition to Caitlyn Jenner. For the first time since Dear Mom and Dad was published in 2012 the investments that my publisher was suggesting made sense, especially the opportunity to “pitch” my book to a group of movie producers in New York City on October 17th. The response to that presentation was overwhelming. Nothing has come of it yet but … hope springs eternal.

Of course there have been a few glitches and detours on the road to the imperial city, but nothing that can’t be overcome. Of course there is an occasional curiosity about what might have been had I not made the choice to cross that temperamental river, but only a curiosity, not a regret. I awake every morning with a sense of purpose that I seldom experienced there on the north shore. New challenges are daunting at times but serve to remind me that I am alive and well.

The one thing that remains unchanged is my Christian conviction and the confidence that is in inherent in that faith. Everything that has happened on my journey has been purposed by a bigger vision than I can even begin to comprehend. So my message today is short and sweet.

Regrets? Not a one! Happy? Absolutely! As they used to say on the cattle drives of years past … “Head ’em up and heel ‘em out!