Just when we thought the overwhelming events of the past two years might be ebbing, the tsunami of Vladimir Putin rose from the depths, and I, for one, feel as if I'm drowning in bad news. In some ways, the injustices being done to the people of Ukraine are even more demoralizing than surviving through the pandemic. I think this is because there is so little we can do to make a real difference. To hands-on help anyone. And though sending money to aid organizations is helpful – it's doesn't make me feel relieved, satisfied.
So, when I'm not lost in my sculpting projects, I've felt a general melancholy and struggle to find something joyful or uplifting about everyday life. After all, good news doesn't make the headlines. But I am going to share with you my secret escape from the dark side – a simple, guilty pleasure that never fails to uplift my mood and reinforce my belief in human kindness: Queer Eye.
The series (in case you don't know or are reluctant to go there) features five boldly gay men who descend on the home of a person whose life is in shambles. Each has an area of expertise – food, fashion, personal grooming, home design, and personal guidance. Over the course of each program, the men tutor, encourage and transform the lives of the men and women chosen for change.
When I watch the show, I'm swept away from the overwhelm of situations we have no power to alter and I enter the realm of the power of 'person-to-person.' Recently, the team visited the dilapidated RV of a young black woman who once had a functioning, mobile dog grooming business – until the rig broke down and was beyond her ability to repair. Business kaputt and dreams dashed . By the end of the episode, she had a new business plan launched, an updated wardrobe thanks to Tan (the fashion guru who helped her look like the business owner she wanted to be) a marketing strategy, a brand new mobile grooming van (fully outfitted by Bobby - interior designer), and a renewed belief in her own abilities and value.
We watch each step –Karomo (the coaching expert on the team) gently listens to her fears and hopes and offers emotional support that lifts her self-esteem; the shopping trip with Tan to build a wardrobe that makes her look like she wants to feel. A session at a hair salon with Johnathan (flamboyant and binary) whose philosophy is summed up here: "Imperfection is beautiful … If you've ever been excluded, or told you were not enough, know that you are enough and beautifully complete." The self-improvement blitz culminates in a "doggie fashion show" orchestrated by Anthony- the team's culinary and wine expert - that kicks off her new enterprise.
By the end of the episode, I'm smiling and sometimes (okay, often) shedding a few tears of gratitude – because they lifted me out of the swamp of every-day doom. And each of the guys on the Queer Eye team comes to the program from experiences that could crush and destroy the lives of lesser humans. They suffered hateful prejudice growing up as gay men – experiencing bullying, nonacceptance, physical abuse, and what they describe as "extreme hatred." Yet together and separately, they survived and, very clearly, thrive.
Karamo, who is black, talked about filming episodes in Texas. He got the double-barrels of homophobia and racism. People were, he said, "Very blatant … I don't interact with Black folks. I don't interact with brown folks. I don't interact with y'all gays … I don't understand this!" Each Queer Eye guy has his own story of beating the odds to build a great life.
After watching an episode, reflecting in the warm emotional glow of acts of kindness and generosity, I wonder how these five did it. Growing up with physical and verbal abuse, bullying, disapproval, and an almost complete lack of acceptance for the persons they were born to be. How did they endure to eventually accept themselves so completely and then share that triumph as shining stars?
I admire them for what they've done and now offer with the click of a remote. A reminder of a truth that gets lost in the onslaught of daily headlines - we all have an innate capacity for good. Here's some timeless reinforcement for that reality:
"The greatness of humanity is not in being human, but in being humane." Mahatma Gandhi
"One book, one pen, one child, and one teacher can change the world." Malala Yousafzai
"Angry people want you to see how powerful they are. Loving people want you to see how powerful you are." Chief Red Eagle
It was, as always, uplifting to hear from you about last week's blog on the invasion of Ukraine. I appreciate your thoughts and observations - and, like you, deeply hope for a swift and peaceful resolution - and wish that each of us could do more to help. Please continue to communicate with me at email@example.com.
Thanks so much to those of you who pass along my blog to friends and family – growing an audience is an integral part of feeling successful, and you are a big help to me. I appreciate you!
How about an opportunity to grab some free eBooks! Throughout March, there is a promotion in which you can choose as many books as you like absolutely FREE – My cozy mystery, "The Song of Jackass Creek" is part of the collection! Go forth and gather good reads. Pass the opportunity along to friends and family too. GO-GET-EM!