Tuesday, June 19, 2007

People Pleasers

(MG) I spent much of my life thinking that my job was to make "everybody" happy. Cute, white, polite suburban kids (even those from the poor side of town - which ain't all that poor to begin with -- but, relatively speaking) who smile, look pretty, don't "rock the boat", have a modicum of talent, and perhaps some wit (but God forbid, not TOO much wit), get enough positive feed back -- pats on the head, various and sundry accolades, to make the effort without asking any tought questions.

As long as one's world is sheltered, limited to say, cute, white, polite and suburban, this survival stratagem "works." It feeds you what you want -- if not what you need. But when one does not aspire to the outward trappings of success in that limiting [cute, white, polite and suburban] world (faster car, better job, bigger house), and when one begins to encounter other worlds one's eyes sometimes open wider and a universe of previously unnoticed options and choices comes into view.

At such junctures, the choices of pleasing "everyone" (which can't really be done), or live an authentic life with some degree of integrity emerge. Who is your client going to be? Who matters most to you?

I encountered this resonating article from BeliefNet recently.

Today would have been a good day for me to wear the t-shirt that says, "I can only please one person a day. Today is not your day. Tomorrow doesn’t look good either."

As I progress in my recovery, I am a choosier shopper when it comes to friendships--I can now recognize when I’m being treated unfairly, or without respect, and I don’t feel as much need to stick around just to prevent causing waves. Nor can I afford to share myself with everyone who comes along. That’s too dangerous and wearing--with pieces of your soul left out to dry on too many doormats--not to mention impossible (like the saying goes: you can please everyone some of the time, and some people all the time, but not everyone all of the time). I need to surround myself with people who are working just as hard as I am at staying well and positive, resisting the plethora of opportunities to turn to the Dark Side and talk trash and gloom.

I feel much like Anne Morrow Lindbergh, who wrote in "Gift From the Sea," "I shall ask into my shell only those friends with whom I can be completely honest. What a rest that will be! The most exhausting thing in life, I have discovered, is being insincere."


Like Anne Morrow Lindbergh said, it’s about being sincere--which means hanging out with people who respect me in the same way that I respect them, and sharing meals with girlfriends and couples who motivate you to be better people.


But if I keep on practicing my boundary-building skills, one day I will find that ... I am staying buoyant with little effort of my own. The boundaries will assist me in conserving energy for the things I love ...

One day I will intuitively know how to say no, and not feel guilty.

Garden Party Song Lyrics - by Ricky Nelson

I went to a garden party to reminisce with my old friends
A chance to share old memories and play our songs again
When I got to the garden party, they all knew my name
No one recognized me, I didn't look the same

But it's all right now, I learned my lesson well.
You see, ya can't please everyone, so ya got to please yourself

People came from miles around, everyone was there
Yoko brought her walrus, there was magic in the air
'n' over in the corner, much to my surprise
Mr. Hughes hid in Dylan's shoes wearing his disguise


lott-in-dah-dah-dah, lot-in-dah-dah-dah

Played them all the old songs, thought that's why they came
No one heard the music, we didn't look the same
I said hello to "Mary Lou", she belongs to me
When I sang a song about a honky-tonk, it was time to leave


lot-dah-dah-dah (lot-dah-dah-dah)

Someone opened up a closet door and out stepped Johnny B. Goode
Playing guitar like a-ringin' a bell and lookin' like he should
If you gotta play at garden parties, I wish you a lotta luck
But if memories were all I sang, I rather drive a truck


lot-dah-dah-dah (lot-dah-dah-dah)

'n' it's all right now, learned my lesson well
You see, ya can't please everyone, so you got to please yourself

Gay Pride in Billings, Montana

(MG) The Billings Gazette reported this story on Sunday, June 17, 2007. I hadn't really thought of Billings, Montana as a hot bed of gay pride -- but I have found acceptance and compassion for openly proud and gay people in blue-collar, biker country in Lake and McHenry counties in north eastern Illinois. It is easy to get all worked up over abstractions, but when the focus gets smaller, and it comes down to kind, decent, generous, caring HUMAN BEINGS you know, kind, decent, generous, caring HUMAN BEINGS you interact with on an every day basis -- it becomes much more difficult, because the hatred is no longer focused on an abstraction, but, on a real, live, breathing, kind, decent, generous, caring HUMAN BEING.

This article gives me hope for the human condition.

Peaceful and proud: Gay parade goes on
For all practical purposes, it was a regular parade through Billings.

A color guard led the group, the grand marshals sat in a convertible, people handed out candy, and the Al Bedoo Shrine brass band played "Montana." There was laughter, waves and cheering from the kids in strollers, families and couples who lined the sidewalk.

The Pride Celebration 2007 parade stretched about eight blocks through downtown Billings on Saturday morning. The three-day celebration is hosted by the Montana Pride Network with the theme "From silence to celebration!"

Parade organizer Mary Horvath estimated that 500 people joined the parade. The parade had dozens of entries, including groups and businesses, and a bunch of people joined in along the way.

Roars from crowd could be heard along the final blocks of the parade route on Second Avenue North as spectators responded to the Montana Pride Network chanting "Two. Four. Six. Eight. Let's Celebrate!"

With sparkling green fake eyelashes, and wearing a monochrome purple outfit of a glittering blouse over a fluffy tutu and fishnet stockings, C.C. Deveroux was likely the most flamboyant parade entry.

It was Deveroux's first Pride parade and, as the tiara suggested, part of Deveroux's reign as Miss Gay Missoula 17, a title crowned in March.

"I'm really impressed with the turnout," Deveroux said. "Everybody was happy to see us. I'd wave and they'd all wave and have a big smile. It was a good experience."

Longtime Billings volunteer and humanitarian Margaret Ping marched with her church, Mayflower Congregational. Ping wore one of the rainbow-striped "Celebrate Diversity" pins handed out during the parade and said she "walked as long as my knee held out."

People of faith had a place in the parade, she said.

"We preach we believe in everybody being children of God," Ping said. "I'm amazed this many people are out, and I'm amazed I haven't heard anybody booing the parade."

Billings Police Department had its regular parade contingent - a patrol car leading the parade with others stopping traffic and officers on bicycles weaving through the route. Police Lt. John Bedford said there were no disruptions or confrontations during the parade.

The parade converged on the Yellowstone County Courthouse lawn for a rally.

Darryl Olson, who is on the Montana Pride Network's organizing committee for the celebration, was master of ceremonies at the rally. Wearing his Army fatigues, Olson said how proud he was to join the color guard in the parade.

"That's a message we need to get out there, that there are gay veterans who have served honorably," he said to a round of applause.

Olson also lauded Mayor Ron Tussing, who signed a proclamation supporting equal rights and inclusiveness for the Pride Celebration.

Among the speakers were Montana Sen. Christine Kaufmann, D-Helena, and Candace Gingrich from the Human Rights Campaign. The women, both gay, were also the grand marshals for the parade. Kaufmann is executive director of the Montana Human Rights Network. Gingrich's brother, former congressman Newt Gingrich, was speaker of the House from 1994 to 1998.

Kaufmann encouraged the group to welcome other often-disenfranchised groups, including immigrants. She also reminded them of legislation and votes around the nation that are leading to more equal rights and the elections of openly gay people. Kaufmann punctuated her speech by proclaiming that Montana could be next.

Gingrich, from Washington, D.C., said that in a dozen years of taking part in Pride parades, she hadn't seen Shriners join in until she came to Billings.

"That's a testament to all of you, that they would want to be part of this," she said.

Pride events are reunions with friends and family and, yes, a chance to party, Gingrich said. Those emotions of inclusiveness should be evoked 365 days a year, she said.

"For some people, Pride means the only time of the year they can get to be out and open and feel safe," Gingrich said.

She asked people to encourage legislators - especially senators, who are holding an upcoming vote - to pass the Matthew Shepard Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2007, which would include sexual orientation and gender identification in the definition of hate crimes.

The new law wouldn't keep people from preaching or thinking what they believe, she said.

"But you can't hate someone and hurt them," Gingrich said. "We deserve to be protected the same as every other American in this country."

Gingrich said GLBT people are in Montana because they love the state.

"Stay proud," Gingrich said. "This is the Treasure State, and GLBT and two-spirited people are part of that treasure."

The celebration moved to North Park for the afternoon. Vendors, most with information and many with items for sale, filled a section of the park; Gay Bingo was played in the community center and kickball was played on the baseball fields. People lounged on the grass and took in a variety of live music and entertainment, including singing, drumming and dancing from the American Indian Two Spirit Society of Denver and Montana.

Events Saturday night included disco bowling, a play at Venture Theatre and a drag show at the Loft.

Today's events begin with spiritual services at 9 a.m. conducted by Seekers Harbor Faith Community at North Park, followed by a farewell breakfast in the park. The Montana Pride Network will hold its annual meeting at 11 a.m. Events wrap up with an afternoon tea dance at The Loft, 1123 First Ave. N.