Ding Dong the DOMA’s Dead

images-4For over forty years I have lived my adult life in a country that has not recognized my right to love, but I never expected to be affected so deeply when DOMA was overturned by the Supreme Court today. What the ruling brings up in me are feelings I never even suspected were hidden. I want to understand these tears and tremors. The surge of longing to be seen and accepted is making me shaky. Why now?

Why not now. Why not a tsunami after forty years of stuffing down and damming up such natural longings for societal acceptance? My tumult and tears show me the pain I have hidden. It feels terrifying to allow hope. Yet, believing that DING DONG the DOMA’s DEAD brings a cleansing exhilaration! No matter how disappointed I may feel at another juncture down the road, right now the release of hope feels a bit like taking the risk of falling in love. You know it’s maybe dangerous, but you don’t care. But a tumult of questions arises and stirs confusion. Will I now expect too much? Will I want to live with my love in an equal rights state? Not where I live now? No one ever promised that sweeping change would be easy.

The repeal of DOMA is causing an abrupt societal lifting of long shame. Since shame is socially induced, it can only be lifted in a socially-witnessed context.DING DONG the DOMA’s DEAD and, pow, we are no more to be treated as shadow citizens, whose plea for passing invisible was the most we could ask. Yet how can shadow citizens enter the full sunlight of freedom to love without blinking and stumbling? For decades I have held myself in a certain posture of resistance and ready defense. I have, in my bones, the experience of profound social exclusions and wounding remarks. The legal restrictions have been, before now, air I breathed, forgetting its poisons in order to keep breathing.

Long ago on this same date as DOMA’s overturn, my mother and my father married one another. There they were, scared and ecstatic, two who loved one another, making a vow to bond as a mated pair. They faced the unknown as I do, and the risk they took was fully as foolish and demanding as the one I face today, should I marry the woman I adore. But this is the first time in my life that my society allows and endorses my taking that risk!My mother and my father took their right to love for granted. That is the difference.

For me at the age of sixty-six, this fresh air of acceptance releases so much untapped energy within me that I hardly recognize my breadth! May this be the true legacy of DOMA dead— that millions, like me, will pour our released love and power and joy, out into the wide world. I end by thanking each person who took each small action along the long path to overturning DOMA. Each has been  a drop of water in the stream. Today, in a stunning waterfall, the stream of change cascades thunderously over the edge, into the pool where we all have the freedom to love.


Offering My Gifts to the World

51G0FYMCDVL._SS500_My 1996 book of Alzheimer’s narratives has been out-of-print for a long time, so my current project is revising it as an eBook. This project, The Third Floor, has its ups and downs, and my outlet for expressing the vicissitudes is an “Artist Check-In” conference call which I make weekly. (An article describing the Artist Check-In, published in the fall 2012 issue of the SCBWI Bulletin, can be viewed here. artist check in article

This week on the check-in call, I reported on the steep learning curve I’m climbing to enter the world of e-publishing and promotion. I ticked off the research I logged this week on digital book cover designers, online stock photos, mail manager services, and Kindle Singles. I spoke to my midweek slump, when the project seemed worthless and impossible, and to the renewal that came from a friend who had read the original book I’m now revising.

My colleagues listened deeply as they always do. One thanked me for being out in the Star Ship Enterprise exploring where she had not yet gone. One gave me a link to Lynn Serafinn’s groundbreaking book, http://the7gracesofmarketing.com/And my reframing of marketing as offering my gifts to the world was clearly reflected back to me by another colleague. Their listening and feedback helped me understand — writing to change the world means I dare not skip the steps of learning how to get the writing into that world. Giving goes nowhere if I don’t do the work of identifying and finding my receivers.

What would I do without these sister artists? Lynnn Serafinn and Sherri L. McLendon (www.professionalmoneta.com), my local guru in mindfulness approaches to marketing, and Tami Simon of Sounds True. (listen to her being interviewed by Krista Tippet of NPR’s On Being show last week, 5/30/13)

Grateful to the max, I don’t have to do without them. And you don’t, either.

Testament to the Human Spirit


Yesterday a friend who read my out-of-print Alzheimer’s book stopped me to say how much it meant to her. She said it took her past the label into the humanness of those suffering with the disease. Bless her heart, she didn’t know her words came just when my revision project, The Third Floor, Tales from Our Teachers on the Alzheimer’s Unit, was slumping into author despair.

I thanked her and returned to work with renewed faith in the project’s value. Whether newly-diagnosed individual, caregiver or staff, family member or friend, all those who have been touched by experience with dementia, need every encouragement available in order to keep their own hearts open. Hope, that feathery thing, is so fragile. My friend spoke directly to my deepest hope, that The Third Floor may be a testament to the human spirit of individuals facing any form of dementia.

Suspended Anticipation

photoBeatitudes, an Arizona retirement campus’s advanced-dementia unit, has become a model of innovations in caring for people who “have trouble thinking,” terminology used by the director of education and research at the Beatitudes campus. A recent article by Rebecca Mead in the New Yorker describes Beatitudes this way: “Often the advanced-dementia unit, with its pervasive quiet and its slow-moving, kindly staff, seemed like an anteroom to another realm, filled with people in a state of suspended anticipation.” 


This article caught my eye because I’m currently revising my out-of-print 1996 book of narratives, Tales from My Teachers on the Alzheimer’s Unit. I plan to launch it as an e-book called The Third Floor, Tales from Our Teachers. I, like the director at Beatitudes, often noticed that the elders with dementia, in the way they live in the immediate present, share a gift of truth with us. Many religions around the globe view being in the present moment as a spiritual practice. It is my hope that The Third Floor  will provide a window through which a reader can look through institutional walls into the unique lives of these teachers.

I’d welcome your comments about experiences in this vein, which you may have had with loved ones, or your thoughts on the New Yorker article, which you can read by clicking the link above.