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Time to Turn Off the Autopilot!

By: Karen J. Allen
Co-Publisher, On the Gay Horizon

I was flipping the channels one day last week and I caught the end of Castway. You know, the movie where Tom Hanks was marooned on that island? It's a really good movie. Should I tell you that I now hear this voice in my head "of course, you say it's a good movie --- it's a water movie!" It's true. There's something about movies that are set on or around water. I can watch them over and over (something my partner at first thought odd but then progressed to annoying). I love all of them --- Jaws (even the awful sequels), Titanic, Perfect Storm, The Abyss...oh, and I love The Beast! That's the one with the guy from CSI and the giant squid --- I've watched it a bunch of times. 

But that has nothing to do with what I wanted to tell you about Castaway --- sorry!

What caught my attention was the final scene. He's at an intersection of two dirt roads out in the middle of nowhere. It took a lot for him to get there, including the fortuitous arrival of a piece of a portable toilet that washed ashore with the tide one day while he was still trapped on the island. By rigging it as a sail he was able to escape and finally get back home. What kept him alive all those years was his love for his girlfriend and the desire to get back to her. If you've seen the movie, you know that it wasn't one of those "they lived happily ever after" homecomings. So, life hasn't turned out at all the way he had planned or hoped. Now, it was time to start all over. Time to pick which direction to head. Once he gets back in the car and starts to drive, his life will be forever changed.

Today is the first day of the New Year --- January 1, 2009. Doesn't feel much different from a day back in '08, does it? So why do we make such a big deal about it? Why mark the transition at all? I think it's because there's a part of us that wants us to pay attention --- to stop and get our bearings --- make conscious decisions about where we are and where we want to go. For at least this one day of the year we make an attempt to turn off the autopilot and take charge of the controls.

Ideally, we would function on a more conscious level all the time. That's what Ann-Marie has been saying --- that being conscious of making small changes can make enormous differences in your level of health and fitness, which will totally change your quality of life. There are other things we can focus on to enhance, not only our daily lives, but the next stage of our journey.

Am I talking New Year's Resolutions? Hmmm...that's so often a set-up for failure. Let's just call them suggestions. In fact, so as to make it as minimally threatening as possible, I will simply share my goals and if you want to appropriate bits and pieces for your own, be my guest.

Health/Fitness --- I'm going to commit to following Ann-Marie's "Fit in a Year" program. I'm even considering keeping a journal of my progress and posting it on the OTGH website. There will also be a special section that will include the different steps of the program as she outlines them. A recipe section to help you eat healthier. Suggestions on what to look for in a personal trainer, exercise facility, running shoes --- all geared toward maximizing benefits and reducing injuries for those of us who aren't as young as we used to be. At the end of the year, this program will be packaged for sale. So take advantage of it now --- while it's being offered to OTGH newsletter subscribers for free.

Financial/Legal --- I doubt that anyone believes more strongly than I do about the importance of wills, powers of attorney, medical directives, etc. Mine are all in order and up-to-date but my financial life could use some work. So, I will be making an appointment with an accountant. What about you? Did you let another year go by without putting legal protections in place? No better way to kick off the year. Don't wait --- learn more and take action!

Relocation --- I've always believed that where you live is one of the most important decisions you can make. It affects you every day. So, while it will be difficult to leave the people I've come to care about here, Texas is not where I belong. More on this as my relocation strategy unfolds and our soon to be published relocation guide for the GLBT community is completed. Ann-Marie tells me that it's getting close. Have you noticed that she does all the work and I get to just ramble on in here? Pretty good deal, don't you think?

Purpose --- I thought long and hard about using that term but nothing else really fit. I don't know about the theory that we all come into life with "a purpose".  I think it more likely that there are many possibilities and we choose which to focus on at any given time. But what I do know is that I believe On the Gay Horizon has a lot of potential to benefit our community and that is where I want to put my energy.

Oh, and there's one more that's always on my list --- Vacation!!! Everybody needs to get away and have fun. Explore new places, try new things, stretch the familiar and the comfortable. As I do my own vacation research, we will share with you the destinations that stand out and are the most highly rated by our community. 

So, that's my list for 2009 --- and beyond. I've had a pretty rough couple of years and I don't expect that's anywhere near over. But I first saw Castaway several years before my partner died. There's a line in it that has nudged my consciousness since she left, but I've not been willing to listen. Maybe its time I did --- and maybe it's a pretty good way to approach the New Year.....

"Tomorrow the sun will rise, who knows what the tide may bring?"

 

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My dad never made it through the eighth grade, but I learned some things from him that become more and more valuable all the time. He always told us how important it was to use the right tool for whatever job you were working on. I was thinking about that as I was putting the pieces of this newsletter together. Useful, specific tools are exactly what we are trying to make available to you. Sometimes they are the same as for our straight friends but, often, they are not. Are there tools that you use or know about that you would like to share with OTGH readers?  Tell us about them at admin@onthegayhorizon.com.

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 Will You be Fit in a Year ?

By: Ann-Marie Giglio
Co-Publisher, On the Gay Horizon

One of my favorite writers, Theodore Geisel (a.k.a. Theo Le Sieg and Dr. Seuss) once wrote:
"Don't cry because it's over.  Smile because it happened."

Let's take that thought into 2009.  Let's unleash a collective grin because we're all still here.  And we've all been given another chance to get it right. 

Speaking of getting it right, if improving your health is on your to-do list this year, we can help.  Stay tuned for our weekly suggestions to help you along the way.  We're calling it Fit in a Year.  And it won't be an exercise of the week.  We want to help everyone thrive on all levels --- physical, emotional, intellectual --- because we believe they are inseparable --- and essential. 

So, the first thing we'll need is a benchmark.  A place to start.  This week will be a physical assessment.  Choose one of these measurements:  if you have a set of stairs handy, see how many times you can run up and down a flight of them in one minute.  If you haven't any stairs, try this:  Jump rope or do Jumping Jacks for 60 seconds. If your knees hurt, do the Jacks where you only step out on one side and then the other --- no jumping.  Count the jumps/minute.  Notice your heart rate.  You should feel a bit warm and out of breath. This exercise measures your aerobic capacity: your ability to convert stored fuel to energy-on-demand and the strength of your heart muscle.  The higher your aerobic ability and the stronger your heart muscle, the more efficiently your body will work.

The number you get now is for your record.  No analyzing it.  What we'll look for is improvement 6 weeks from now --- around Valentines Day. 

After you take this measurement, go outside for a walk.  Even if it's cold.  Bundle up.  Just get outside and DO IT, to steal a wonderfully succinct message.  Get out of your house or apartment.  Feed your eyes, your nose and your heart.  Think about how you feel physically and mentally as you walk. Walk as long as you can.   

When you return, note any changes.  Did your heartrate increase?  Are you seeing your home a bit differently?  Are you more relaxed?  It's important that you connect this movement to the way you feel afterward. 

I'm betting you'll feel better.  And that's the goal this year.  To feel better. 

And smile because it happened.

   

[Editor's Note: Ann-Marie Giglio, besides being a professional writer and the co-publisher of On the Gay Horizon, is the owner of a fitness studio focused on improving quality of life through the mind/body connection. She is a certified ChiRunning and ChiWalking instructor, AFAA certified Personal Trainer and Group Fitness instructor and SCW certified Pilates reformer instructor.

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