Responding to the Orlando Tragedy

Shock and disbelief learning that fifty persons had been murdered while celebrating and dancing during the early morning hours of June 12, 2016.   Another act of gun violence with an assault weapon occurred at a nightclub in a similar vein to prior incidents at a local school, a movie theatre, a house of worship, a college campus, or a workplace.   This incident took place at a place where LGBT inclusiveness is honored and celebrated.    So what is next for us here in Fort Lauderdale?

Many persons surrounded themselves with loved ones to mourn.   Sun Serve offered free bereavement counseling.   The Pride Center organized a memorial service attended by more than 1000 local residents.   Patrons packed the local LGBT bars and restaurants to demonstrate solidarity.   The Tony Awards paid their respect and offered a showcase of performances dedicated to those whose lives have been lost.  

What many people have chosen to do is to keep living and loving.  Rather than isolate, people are expressing their grief, whether it is based in shock, anger, sadness, worry or a combination of all of those feelings.   People are hugging each other, letting family and friends know they are loved.  

Again, my heartfelt recommendation to clients, colleagues, and friends is to keep living and loving.   Let those who love you know how you feel.   Pray for the people of Orlando.   Be compassionate and listen to those who are overwhelmed.   Refer to the local resources providing assistance.   Collaborate with local law enforcement if you suspect someone is in danger.   Lend your support to an organization opposed to gun violence.  

Our LGBT community has been growing with millions of allies.   We continue to have the right to marry.  Speak your truth about the importance of living in a country where we value the lives of all colors, genders, orientations, creeds and beliefs.   Be safe, be genuine, and be loved.

Suggestions for Making Your Holidays Happy

There are two short work weeks ahead as many companies close on December 24 & 25 as well as December 31 & January 1st for the Christmas and New Year’s Holidays.    School systems and courtrooms are essentially non-operational for these two weeks.   You may be getting the final items on your gift lists, packing luggage to travel or preparing to host several family members.   The holidays can get stressful when the “to do list” feels overwhelming, yet this time of year can be full of treasure.  Don’t hesitate to self-care while you are actively involved in the midst of giving to others.

Here are a few possibilities to enjoy the holidays… if one applies, utilize the suggestions:

  • Embrace the spiritual nature of the holidays; if you are not faith-based, revel in a greater communal spirit that is present or intended when people wish you a joyful holiday, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa, or Merry Christmas.
  • As you finish your shopping list, get a pedicure or a massage to ease your muscle tension.
  • Enjoy sleeping in at least two mornings of your holiday break.
  • Volunteer at a shelter or participate in the serving or cleaning up of a meal catered to those who may be homeless or struggling to make financial ends meet.
  • If you are traveling to visit with family or your in-laws, spend 1:1 time with your favorite relative or a close friend who lives in the area to unwind… and maybe confide if need be. 
  • Remember to pack a book you’ve been wanting to read or plan to attend a movie you can’t wait to view (there have been at least $100 Million in pre-sales for Star Wars 7).  
  • If you’ve been banished to a guest room with single beds, find time to cuddle with your sweetheart during daytime hours.
  • Recognize you may add a couple of pounds to your body weight when you are enjoying the talents of friends and family who love to bake or cook.   Set aside time for physical activity each day to combat significant weight gain during the holidays.
  •  Don’t focus on finding the perfect gift; enjoy the gratitude expressed when someone thanks you for the effort to choose her/his gift.
  • If you remain in the Lauderdale area, sink your toes in the sand for a beach day.

Thanks to my clients for entrusting me with your concerns.  Wishing each one of you a joyful holiday!

The Benefits of Perseverance

Patience may be a virtue, but perseverance is a trait to strive for.  A working definition of perseverance is being steadfast with my personal actions in spite of difficulty or delay in achieving success.   Perseverance requires staying the course and holding true to my values and beliefs while facing challenges.  

The front page, the entertainment page and the sports page have some great examples of perseverance from the past month in particular.   Let’s start with the front page… Bernie Sanders and Carly Fiorina with their pursuit of presidential nomination from their respective political parties.  Despite very low poll numbers at the beginning of the presidential campaigns, both candidates have been slowly climbing in the polls despite initial reviews from pundits that their campaigns would never generate serious consideration for the Party nomination.  Sanders is attracting huge crowds as he traverses the country while Fiorina has shined in each Republican Party debate and quadrupled her support in polls.

The sports page:   Roberta Vinci.   Told by her doubles’ partner that she was concentrating on singles (they had been the world’s top ranked doubles team for three years), Vinci found herself ranked at 29th in the world and a huge underdog to Serena Williams for their match at the US Open.   After losing the first set, Vinci told herself, “Have fun, keep the ball in play and run, run and run.”  She won the next two sets, and her victory over Williams is considered one of the greatest upsets of all-time in Women’s tennis

The Entertainment Section:  Jon Hamm.  Nominated for the eighth time as the lead character Don Draper from the TV series Mad Men, he received a standing ovation from the audience when Tina Fay announced Hamm had won his first Emmy.   Hamm’s early life was somewhat similar to the character he portrayed as Hamm lived with surrogate parents from the age of ten when his mother passed away.  After college graduation and a one year stint teaching at his high school alma mater, Hamm spent a decade in Los Angeles working as a set decorator and waiting tables to earn income until he finally was winning larger acting roles.

I have enjoyed working with clients that demonstrate perseverance in a variety of circumstances.  One client had been conflicted about terminating his long-term relationship because his partner was using crystal meth.   The client remained in love with his partner, but upset at the friction created whenever the partner was under the influence.   The client learned to distinguish his responses between those that were co-dependent, reinforcing the drug use, and were interdependent, that focused on supporting the relationship and partner’s attempts to reduce and eventually cease using.   The couple is now enjoying the benefits of a sober home life.

A client in his twenties had been working for a small company of about 75 employees since he arrived as an intern five years ago.   During his tenure, he had been promoted to a project manager function which required long hours and consistently responding to customer complaints.   He was informed that he could not grow further because the Department Manager positions were filled, and struggled whether to pursue other options.   He received an offer from a Fortune 1000 company and now has a salary and benefits such that his wife is able to stay at home with their two young children rather than enroll them in day care while she also returns to the workforce.      

The most heartwarming example of perseverance is related to parents who learned that their elementary school aged child had academic challenges related to comprehension and contemplated repeating a school year.   The parents openly communicated with the child’s teachers about school performance, and they diligently spent time reading books with the child and investing in software designed to improve the child’s comprehension and retention abilities.   The child has now entered middle school in mainstream classes and typically brings home A’s and B’s in almost all of his classes and assignments.  

Life can throw curveballs our way.   Learning to persevere against challenges takes resiliency and often results in happiness and satisfaction.