Chosen Ones

For a number of years now, I’ve been actively disengaged from my biological family. They’re back east, in Maine, distant and apart from me and my life way over here in Oregon.

By choice.

By necessity.

In the last year, since starting therapy, I’ve been wrestling with the fact that my childhood, no matter how idyllic I’ve painted life on that 65-acre New England farm with rolling hills, fields, a river, and two trembling brooks, it was also full of deep, dark trauma.

I still need to plumb the depths of all of that, and come to more solid terms with it, as I heal and grow into the next half of my life. It’s because of that need in my own life, that I’ve actively and thoughtfully created my own Chosen Family here, in my actual life, where my own rubber meets the road. It’s why I keep those who share my DNA at a long-ass distance. We might share blood and bone, but we share nothing else.

I’m okay with that, after years and YEARS of feeling guilt and pressure to not be okay with being away.

This is the start of the holiday season, with it’s manufactured “come home” vibes, with all of the pressure to supply food and gifts to your family members, with the silly Hallmark holiday movies, nostalgia wrapped up in tinsel and Victorian decor, and all the rest. If this time of year brings you joy, and you have a solid, loving connection to those who raised you and brought you into this life, by all means, go hog wild, enjoy your thing, and share it wide and far. Even this old Hermit loves a bit of sparkle and joy in the deep darkness of winter.

But if you are like me, and you struggle with all of that, and hate the feelings that this time of year can generate inside you, I want to let you know that I’m here. Your Internet Dad is here, arms open wide, and willing to listen and comfort as you parse out how your feeling and how the winter holidays affect you.

The Chosen

I definitely challenge you to find your Chosen Family – those you keep close, that you lean on, that you think of on bright sunny lovely days, and want close on the darker, deeper, more challenging days. Even if you are close to your bio-family, it’s vital that you have some support outside of that framework. Perhaps, make it a resolution for yourself going forward. As an Old Man, I’m telling you, it matters. Deeply.

Mental Health Days

I grew up in a world where mental health concerns were the stuff of humor and ridicule. Mental health hospitals were deemed terms like “looney bin” and “psycho ward” and the like. Conversations about people with mental health issues included terms like “bat-shit crazy” and “psychotic” in ways that indicated derision and a derogatory tone. Mental health issues were a shameful thing, best dealt with quietly, in the darkness, and out of sight. Nobody admitted they were on pills to cope. Ever.

For years, I cast off any suggestion that I had depression, or needed therapy, or any help at all. I denounced all mental health meds as just “crutches for the weak” (again, ableist as fuck) and denied myself the care I clearly needed because of the stigma around not being normal.

That stopped, fully, last year, when I started down a path towards my own mental health improvement. My anxiety and depression had gotten so bad that it was affecting how I interacted with the people I love. I was sleeping maybe 4-5 hours a night, my insides were always in a knot, and my drinking had grown exponentially. I needed to come to terms with my old ways of thinking, and admit that I needed help.

Thankfully, I had (and still have) a wonderful support network around me to lean on when shit hits the fan. Dad’s not as strong as he’d like to be, but then again, the definition of “strength” is malleable. I’m learning a lot about the bullshit I carried around for years. I’m working through it. Part of that journey meant coming to terms with my needs at work. I finally applied for an intermittent medical leave, a protected right under the federal Family Medical Leave Act, which will help me both keep my job, and work even harder on my mental health needs and growth.

Today, I finally took advantage of this protection for the first time.

I woke up feeling overwhelmed and exhausted, and as I looked at my scheduled day – 12 hours at the handle of my train – and felt myself already mentally crushing under the weight of that. I made a choice. Today is a self-care day. I have been running hard for a few days straight now, and I’ve hit a wall. Mentally and physically. I lost track of myself yesterday, forgot my meds, and started to grind my own self down.

This decision runs smack against everything I’ve ever been taught about work and reliability and all of that. I still struggle with these old ways of thinking, still refer to myself as “broken” when that’s not fully accurate. Perhaps, today, as I recover and pull myself together again, I will ruminate on the way I talk about my own mental health and wellbeing.

Love, Expanded

Out of the blue, my Boy, who’d been kinda floating around in Salt Lake City, unsure of his next moves, and still seeking some forward momentum, made a decision.

He was coming to Portland.

He’d spent some quality time in Juneau, AK, and definitely had a fond memory of the damp and drear that’s somehow magical up here. After spending nearly a week with me, hiking and camping and getting to know me a lot better, he also decided to let me in.

Much closer, in fact.

Cozy Fellas Indeed.

So, he packed his bags, boarded a one-way flight, and now is taking up residence at our place.

It’s a big change. For all of us.

Amazingly, however, my beloved husband has been absolutely fine with it. He’s more than fine with my polyamory, and he’s also more than fine with us giving space to a lovely young man as he gets his feet under him and forges ahead with a new life here in Portland.

At the husband’s suggestion: Rooster Rock

Today, the Boy, David, has begun the process of getting set up here. He enrolled in the Oregon Health Plan, and is working on getting registered to vote. He’s also started the job application process and the hunt for income.

He’s aware of the need for his own space, for a need to contribute to the household. He’s not just a freeloader, and not taking advantage of our generosity, or my heart. All of my worries and concerns and catastrophizing has been for naught.

Besides…Dad likes giving out more hugs and kisses to more lovely humans on his way out the door to work. This is a life-moment I’ve been dreaming about forever.

Second Life

It’s really hitting that I need some massive changes in my life. My job in public transit is steady and even, in terms of pay and such, but man, it’s taking the life right out of my body at pretty steady flow. It has been for a number of years now, and I’m fed up with it.

Over the last six months or so, I’ve taken up with something that was suggested to me by my old fitness coach, and gone and got myself certified as a personal trainer and nutrition coach.

Turns out, I fucking love it.

I’ve got a couple of paying clients, with more on the way (if we are a match), and I find myself really enjoying the interactions with people who want to make changes in their lives with regards to food and fitness.

Who the hell knew this Certified Fat Kid from Maine would ever find himself *happy at a gym,* let alone THRILLED to be helping others find happiness at the gym, or even in the kitchen?

Certainly not me.

What this has caused in my life, though, has been a cascade of changes that I’m ready to make, even at this later stage of things.

I applied for a job with the US Forest Service yesterday, as a person who would work in a visitor’s center helping people with information and pass purchases as they entered our nation’s national forests. The pay isn’t much, but it is government work, and it’s in a field that I’ve always loved and wanted to be part of – outdoor recreation and conservation – and would more than likely bring me joy.

I plan on seeking out other opportunities and applying for them as well, in any number of areas of work. I have literally nothing to lose by sticking my hat in a variety of rings, and probably a lot more to gain by seeing where it all takes me.

Yes, even at 45, I feel like I have so much more I could be doing with my time that would be more beneficial to the world, and to myself, in terms of mental health and supporting Joy and Goodness in my life. Why I feel like I’m tied to a job that is literally running me into the ground is beyond me, and I refuse to believe that this is all I’m capable of. I know, for a fact, that I could be doing so much more with my time.

I guess the phrase “Stay Tuned” is applicable here. Dad’s not done finding his way, it seems.


It’s so bizarre to me.

I turn Forty-Five in a couple of months.

I have wondered what that would mean for me for a very long time. It’s not like I expected to live forever, but the idea that half of my life has passed, and half of my life is ahead of me, feels pretty damned significant.

And I’m certain I’ll be doing more reflecting and thought-processing, so hang tight.

Here’s what I know so far:

I have so much more to do in this life. I get caught up in the daily struggles, the week-to-week, the relevance, the validity, and all the rest, that time seems to slip through my fingers at a break-neck speed these days. I need to slow down, pause, and find a way to be present with myself and my existence far more often.

Capitalism will kill us all, and by the time we realize it’s coming for us, it’s already too late. Do the thing, do it as soon as you can, on whatever budget you can muster, and find that Joy because you only really get one shot.

Health and vitality are accessible to anyone at any age, and anyone who tells you otherwise is a damned liar.

Get the dog. Adopt the cat. Pet the horse. Animals and familiars are a huge boost to everything and all things, and worth every second of time that you get to share with them.

Don’t waste time on petty bullshit. If Dad has *any* advice to anyone at all anywhere, it’s this. Stop the drama where it starts, clear the decks, make better choices, and all the rest. You are literally wasting time with it otherwise.

Look for the Beauty. It’s right there, in front of you. Sense it with all of your being.

Fall in love as many times as possible, with as many people as possible. Be that guy or gal. Embrace your affectionate side. The world could use a LOT more lovers like us.

Locked Down, Again

I started to feel off on Saturday. Scratchy throat, headache, and a dry cough that no amount of cough drops could soothe. I wasn’t stuffed up, and my allergy meds and nasal spray weren’t really doing any heavy lifting, so I figured I’d rule out something I’d thought I’d been vaccinated and immunized against for a while now – COVID-19.

Turns out, that’s exactly what I’ve managed to contract. Again. For the third time.

Sunday, my positive test result took the wind out of my sails. I called off work, let them know that I was poz, and sat in kind of a blank-stare stupor for most of the day. How was this possible? I mean, I know how it’s possible. This virus is very, VERY happy to mutate, and since my last infection, and last dose of vaccine, I’ve lost count of how many variants have been discovered and labeled and started their march across humanity. I don’t know which strain I have now, and it doesn’t matter, but the symptoms are vaguely familiar, though not as sharp/steep as the previous rounds I’ve had with this coronavirus.

This is a forced time out. This is the universe telling me “chill, bro” and catch your breath (as best as you can, the virus has my chest all kinds of tight). So, that’s what I’ve been doing. No, that’s actually not quite true.

I’m not a “chill, bro” kind of person.

In fact, what I have been doing is working on the things I have been kicking down the road for a while now out of a lack of time and focus strength. I’ve started to put into place the pieces I need to launch my coaching career, and so far, with only a few minor hiccups, things seem to be rolling on.

I have a site up – kind of quick-and-dirty and subject to refinement – that both markets my coaching skills and links to software that I will be using to engage with my clients. Right now, I have three beta-testers who are getting twelve weeks of nutrition coaching for free in exchange for their feedback on elements and the process along the way. I will be coaching them for sure, but part of our check-ins will also be to get feedback on the process, software, information, and how well my coaching aligns with the curriculum they’ve got for themselves.

I’ve gotten some intake surveys from the people who’ve started, and immediately, I am finding myself focusing in on both the areas I’m spotting that have the most need for my help, and setting expectations for myself, and for my clients, about what areas I want to really hone in on for them.

I’m really, really excited for this! It is tapping all the way into my Healer/Teacher/Guide self, and I feel like I can make a MASSIVE impact on the people who engage with me, if I trust my instincts and listen with my heart and mind aligned.

I feel really, really in alignment. For the first time in a long time.

This journey is just getting started, and I’m excited for it. I can already sense some massive doors just starting to peek open for me, and it’ll be up to me to both check what’s behind them, remain vigilant for opportunities that align with who and what I am, and to remain in this state of utter gratitude for this opportunity to change how I engage with the world around me.

On the Job

I know it’s time to change. It has been time to change how I draw income for a long time now, but it really, really is time.

This last week was far too much effort.

Last night, on my last trip on my last day of the work week, I once again reached the end of my rope. I lost my cool with a customer who was being unruly on my train – most like due to intoxicants or mental health issues or both/all, and I lost control of my emotions.

While I acted forcefully, decisively, and for the good of all people on my train, I felt like I’d failed myself, having lost my emotional grounding, and letting this person get the better of me.

I still feel shaken by this feeling that I’m not capable of doing my job to the level that’s expected because I’m weak or broken or unable.

I was warned this might happen, by a senior operator when I started, who’s long-since retired. Elizabeth, you knew better, and you tried to warn me. I will never forget it.

The job hunt is on, and has been on, for some time now. Sadly, I’m tied down fiscally in ways that require a minimum salary guarantee, and that means a limited job pool to draw from. I’m also very limited by my work experience, as I’ve been in the same line of work for nearly a decade. I’m also old, and while age discrimination doesn’t happen on paper, it definitely happens in reality, and so making the changes I need are an uphill battle.

I am nearly done with my nutrition coaching certification. I need to dig down and get through my personal trainer certification as well, which is sitting like a large, daunting lump on my dining room table. Still, I know that’s where my joy is to be found, and a future-self exists.

I will get into my future, and find a way away from this mountain of anxiety and stress that work is brining into my life. I will find a balance. I owe it to myself, and to those who love me.

A Second Coming Out

I did make a debut with my new website art.

I had the last five days off from work. As a break in my usual routine, it was a nice time for me to catch my breath, and catch up on some tasks I needed to do. Mostly, though, it was a break from the grind of my day job.

In the past, it would have also meant a few evenings of imbibing and carousing, spending money and time drinking and seeking mental escape from the things that keep me awake at night. Of course, that’s not an option for me now, as I have gone sober, so what could have been a raucous week before Pride was actually quiet, thoughtful, and full of introspection.

Over the last two nights, though, I tested myself. I wanted to be around other queer people in a space that felt comfortable. For all of my gay life, that’s been at the bar. Not drinking, though, had never really been part of the equation. I wondered how I’d do.

My first visit, by myself? Awful.

Overwhelmed, unable to maintain composure, needing to hide and catch my breath more than once, it was such a strange experience. All of my bar friends were great, but watching them get more and more drunk was – a lot.

I left early. I was actually not ok.

I had to calm myself down before I drove.

Last night, however? Much, much better.

I was deft at ordering up ginger ale. Paid in cash, and left hefty tips for the bar. I was able to connect with friends who, one by one, told me that they were proud of me and my choice to go sober. Good conversation was had. Hugs. Laughs. Smiles. All the good parts of community and camaraderie.

I got home, tired and satisfied.

I slept like the dead.

And I felt like I could do it again, much like the first time I stepped into a gay bar.

Happy Pride, indeed.

Dad’s Selling Shit

After some wrangling with my lovely artist, who decided he “needed creative time” or whatever ✨, I’ve got some stuff up on a site for you to buy, if you’re curious about supporting this site, the vibe I’m giving, or if you know for a fact I just need a goddamned coffee.

Two designs, over at RedBubble. Go have a peek and tell me what you think!

Shout out do David deLeyser for the artwork. He’s amazing young man I get to call “Son” now and again.

Daddy’s Stuff

A Few Changes

Things over here at D-A-D are going to be changing up a bit. Stay tuned. I’ve upgraded my hosting, included some new features that I will be revealing going forward, and have an idea that I’d like to try out, and see if it takes off.

For now, it’ll still be your Gruff Old Man, scratching his balls and beard, wondering about the state of the world.

Consider a tip if you’re curious to help.