Seeing the World Through Rosé Colored Glasses

 “Not Above Canned Rosé”  Bryant Park

“Not Above Canned Rosé” Bryant Park

We live in funny times.

You turn on cable news and are led to believe the world is a big, scary place. You read in the papers people are not to be trusted - they have ulterior motives, bad intentions, or are just plain malevolent.

Maybe I’m an optimist, but I don't believe it. Personally and professionally I've found - in New York and Nairobi; Tel Aviv and Tokyo; there’s darkness in the world, but by-and-large people are full of light. Perhaps a bit self-interested or occasionally short-sighted, but mostly kind. Generous. Wonderful. Kind.

Six months ago I showed up in Manhattan with a suitcase, no place to live, no job, and a bank account moving in the wrong direction. It's something I'm proud of, but not something I did alone.

Along the way mentors connected dots, family and friends helped pack possessions, and a killer therapist unpacked my thoughts (#curestigma) – even strangers shared umbrellas and wine in the park.

Now, I have an apartment I like, a job I enjoy, and a city I love to hate. It’s hard to believe I’ve already been here half-a-year. I feel a little like a German Shepherd – as if the time passed in dog years and it’s already been a lifetime. It’s a new season, in a new place… and for the first time, this restless wanderer might stay somewhere a while.

If growing up has taught me anything it’s that our dreams are never achieved alone.

So, here’s to generosity, more adventures, and seeing the world through rosé colored glasses. Let’s make a kinder world, together.

xoxo,

- jmc

What if God Wore Glitter?

June was Pride month which meant both a lot of rainbow flags and even more angry Facebook rants against them. 

 Amsterdam, April 2017

Amsterdam, April 2017

I've been on the road a lot the last few weeks and haven't had a chance to share any thoughts, so here’s a few from 30,000 feet:

I haven’t posted much about sexuality since my original post a few years ago; I just never felt the need. My sexuality and my story are my own… and they're still unfolding. So when, where, and with whom I share it is my decision and mine alone. 

I don’t want to spoil much (because New York is expensive and I want you to buy it) but if you’re curious, you can read more details of that journey when my first book is (hopefully!) released later this year. 

 Kauai, June 2018

Kauai, June 2018

I began writing to make sense of my world, but I’ve kept writing to help others make sense of theirs. I’ve wrestled, cried, and crawled through the liminal spaces of faith, mental health, and sexuality and understand what it means to wait.

I believe in life we often become what we wish we’d had… so, regardless of the season of life you've found yourself in, my hope is you’d find faith and courage in knowing you’re not as alone as you may feel. 

And I think that’s what, beneath all the glitter, Pride is about. It’s a space where you can exist as you are, where the kaleidoscope–the rainbow–of who you are (even if you're still figuring that out!) is celebrated. A place you don’t have to feel alone. 

But some Christians find it ironic, or even upsetting, the LGBT community chose the rainbow to represent them. 

If you’ve seen the bad Emma Watson movie or read the Old Testament, you'll remember at the beginning of the Bible a great flood came as a judgment on humanity. But, after the sky clears, God sent a rainbow as a promise never to destroy the Earth again.

Look, my bachelor’s is in business and I work in corporate communications… so I’m not claiming to be a theologian. However lots of people with “Ph.D.” after their names believe the rainbow in the beginning of the Bible foreshadows the end of the story–the “end” being the part where God sends Jesus to unify humanity through his message of love, restoration, and inclusion. 

I'm inclined to agree; regardless of the intention, I believe the rainbow is appropriate. We can have a healthy debate about theology all day long, but let's not miss the forest for the trees. You don’t have to understand drag queens or cover yourself in glitter to appreciate the importance of Pride, because even as a Christian you probably understand it more than you think.

You see, Pride wouldn’t exist if people didn’t feel marginalized or a need to fight for equality, and a couple of thousand years ago that's one of the reasons why Christ himself came.

Pride exists because people in need found their way to each other… and isn’t that why the Church exists too? 

We become in our lives whoever the people we love say we are and perhaps that’s why Pride parades are getting bigger, and churches are getting smaller. 

My intention isn't to be inflammatory, just the opposite. To quote my pal Bob Goff, “burning down others opinions doesn’t make us right, it makes us arsonists." I want to build bridges, not burn them down which is why I point out we all live under the same sky. 

So, wherever you find yourself this summer - whether you’re marching in a parade, fuming on the sidelines, or somewhere in between… I hope you remember all of our stories weigh the same,.. at the end of the day, we’re all just trying to find a place to belong.

Humans are more like stained glass than folded cardboard so let’s stop putting people in boxes and start standing beside each other instead. 

Our neighbors are our teachers not our projects, and perhaps we're not on Earth to fix people but to just be with them, and maybe throw a little glitter along the way.

This is Me (One Month in New York)

If you’ve been reading my writing for any length of time, you’ll know I often start with a metaphor, anecdote, or story. And, while I enjoy sharing things I’ve done, places I’ve explored, and interesting people I’ve met along the way… sometimes I think I can hide behind them. 

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I’ve recently realized I like writing about the past because it’s safe. It feels messy to share when you’re in the throes of something. It's less vulnerable to share what you’ve figured out, or are far enough removed from, because at least then you can offer some poetic resolve. 

But “poetic resolve” and “mid-twenties” have about as much in common as Paris Hilton and Socrates, something my therapist reminded me while on a phone call from a Manhattan subway station. 

As wonderful and life-giving as New York has been the last month, all the street falafel in the world can’t bring resolution to your doubts, insecurities, and shame. 

And so, slumped against the filthy wall of 42nd & Broadway, dry tears stung my cheeks. As Brazilian tour groups and slightly off-brand Marvel characters wandered home from Time’s Square, my blessedly patient counselor and I talked about shame. 

Shame about my past or of having too many feelings – of being unemployed or lack of clarity – of my faith or who I love.

Brene Brown writes, “because true belonging only happens when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world, our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self-acceptance.” 

I recently shared how my word for 2018 is “gentle,” accepting where I’m at and who I am; letting my story unfold organically rather than formulaically. 

For me, the journey of the last few years has been about self-acceptance and New York, in many ways, feels like the culmination of that journey. 

What I didn’t tell you was the frustrated tears about “what’s next” at the beginning of my call shifted to joyful ones by the end of it. 

Because, in our last few moments together, I was reminded of how much I’ve grown. After all, nothing wholly embodies the old hymn “my shame is gone, I’ve been set free” like tears and expletives in a Manhattan subway station. 

A month into this adventure and I’m still a New York freshman. There’s much I’m uncertain about, but I’m starting to understand I can be in the throes of something and still be confident in myself. 

So, while “poetic resolve” seems like a strong word and there are still days I attempt to find sanctity in a halal cart, I’m honestly, dare I say, okay. I’m proud of the things I’ve done, but for the first time in a long time, I’m proud of who I am. 

What would it look like if whatever shame you’re holding onto – whether you’ve been clinging it to it for two hours or a lifetime – wasn’t there any longer? It matters what truth you align yourself with and the truth is, I have nothing to be ashamed of, nor do you.

Let's be a little more brave. Let's feel a little more free. 

Learning to Be "Gentle" with Your Story

The moon is rising, and I hear a wolf howl in the distance. It’s nearly 1 AM in a remote part of Southern Jordan on the Saudi Arabian border. 

 Sun City Camp, Wadi Rum, Jordan, Feb. 2018

Sun City Camp, Wadi Rum, Jordan, Feb. 2018

My blistered feet in my new boots ache, and all I have is my camera, tripod, and a diet coke. All the years I spent as a Boy Scout apparently haven’t paid off, and I’m beginning to think I’ve made a mistake. 

Then, I look up. 

Forgetting about things like scorpions and snakes, I sit in the red sand and stare into the ocean above my head. 

For years, anytime I thought about the ocean it felt like I was holding my breath, my lungs unable to expand. Secrets about the most intimate parts of myself burning like hot coals beneath my feet. The fear I wasn’t stewarding my life well, or I was missing out on what I was made to do…. this reality burning like cheap whiskey in the back of my throat as I tried to breathe.

Here though, in the Valley of the Moon, instead of suffocating, I was drowning in light. I don’t know whether it was the place, the full moon, or the Sleeping at Last song playing softly through earbuds, but I started to cry. There, in the desert… not far from the one where the characters of the Old Testament wondered, wandered, and trapped in their heads, tried to figure out why there were there and why they were there. 

I’ve talked before about viewing myself as an equation and life as an algorithm, the solution being a formula I had yet to discover. 

This year though, the word I’m speaking over my life is “gentle” – freeing my calloused shoulders from the burdens of the world and pain in my lungs preventing me from breathing in the present moment. 

 Valley of the Moon, Southern Jordan, Feb. 2018

Valley of the Moon, Southern Jordan, Feb. 2018

In 2018, I’m striving to be gentle with myself – personally and professionally – and let the aspects of myself I don’t understand unfold organically instead of trying to force them out. 

“Gentle” lives in the liminal space between suppression and obsession. Its awareness, dancing with your fear, anxieties, and unknowns without suppressing them but simultaneously not giving them power through obsession either. 

If your mind is a castle with many rooms “gentle” is placing that which you don’t understand on a shelf in the foyer… not locking them in the basement but not scattered all over the kitchen table either. 

I plan to write more about what it looks like to be “gentle” in all the areas of your life. But for now, my hope is you’d learn to breathe again, to hang on… not for dear life but to dear life. So, so dear. What a rare and beautiful thing it is to exist indeed.