Welcome aboard Qantas flight #17 from Sydney to Los Angeles.

During my “year to live” in which I (with the help of God and my peers) sought to un-fuck my life, some kind soul, a blog reader, sent me a message asking if I knew about the semicolon tattoo and its meaning. I did not. Born of a single day of activism in which people were to draw semicolons on their body to draw awareness to emotional struggles and suicide, the movement has now grown substantially and thousands have had the punctuation mark tattooed on their bodies to make a more permanent statement.

Why the semicolon? The semicolon is used when an author might have chosen to end a sentence but rather decided to continue on. Here, symbolically, the sentence is my life and I am the author.

Although very early on in my “year to live” process I knew that ending my life was not something I was willing to go through with because of what it would do to others, I chose to continue to approach the process “keeping the stakes high” so that I could have the same sense of urgency and determination. It worked. I’m now happier than I have ever been and I’m excited about my future. When, in September 2014, I “came out” about my PTSD and the emotional struggles I was having, I declared that on September 1, 2015 I would make my decision and if it was “thumbs down,” I would “carry out the sentence” on October 15, 2015, my 50th birthday.

I’m content not to talk about that anymore unless it helps someone out. I’ve moved on. I only bring it up in this blog installment because of the title, it’s meaning, and the real subject matter of today’s installment which is what happens now.


On October, 15 of this year, instead of ending my life, I made a ceremony of my decision to not only live on but to live on with gusto and even more determination. Simon, my boyfriend and I had travelled to Wollongong, Australia on the day before and got a beautiful hotel room overlooking the beach. On my birthday, we rose early, went to a seaside café and had a wonderful breakfast. After lounging over coffees and the newspaper, we made our way to skydiving center to be briefed on the safety aspect of my chosen form of celebration before boarding a bus for the airport to hop on the plane in which I would take off and not land.

I’ve been in a few different intense situations in my life before, during, and after Iraq. I may have burnt out my “I’m skeered” receptors and the only reason I mention it now is that it would not be unreasonable to assume that a sane man would get at least a little frightened about jumping out of an airplane for the first time from an altitude of 15,000 feet. But I was never scared. I was fun from beginning to end and I was ready to do it again as soon as my ass hit the ground. What an awesome way to mark, not only my 50th birthday, but my decision to live and to live life more abundantly. The fact that I was joined in celebration by the man I love made it all the more perfect.

After the skydive, we made our way to the tattoo shop for me to get my semicolon tattoo as a symbol of my commitment to stay true to the philosophy and practice that took me from where I was to where I am and as a symbol of my new life. Thank you again to all of you who stood by me patiently and persistently as I went through what was a sometimes rough, often embarrassing process. If I had to do it all over again, I might do some things in a higher and better way but I have no regrets.

Regarding Simon: I live my life in a very public way as you know. I’m sure many consider it narcissistic and that may be so. Social media and the blog have helped me not to feel lonely. Loneliness has been at points in my life, even when I was surrounded by people who love me, a constant, unwanted, yet persistent companion. That’s not the case anymore but my hunger to connect with people in as many ways as possible doesn’t seem to have subsided. Also (and feel free to call bullshit on this if you like), I have had many people approach me to say that they have been helped in their own process by my sharing my own, especially the “hard stuff.” That someone might be helped by my writing and otherwise by my art in general is one of life’s greatest joys for me. So I’ll continue to share the contents of my heart through my art in whatever form it takes on whatever level I’m allowed. Simon is a more private person than I am, however. He is content not to be in the spotlight all the time. There is nothing I would change about this man to include that. We have a life together that I expect that will last until I die but he also has a life of his own and just because he loves me doesn’t mean he has to have every detail of our romance broadcast like a reality show on Facebook (if for no other reason than that Zuckerberg hasn’t approached us with offers of royalties). Like most Facebook addicts, especially Southerners it seems, I’ve been guilty of posting everything from what I had for dinner to pictures of my new underwear. I, apparently, have no shame. Simon is the thing in my life that I am absolutely over-the-moon about so naturally I want to stand on a hilltop and proclaim my love for all to hear. But as I said, Simon’s a more private person and I want to respect that. I’ll say a little bit more and end it with that:

Simon and I “met” when he said hello to me on a dating app. We switched immediately over to Skype and began to video date, real visits where we wore clothes. I got to know him as a person. I fell almost immediately. A month into that process we decided we had to meet in person and two months after he first said hello, I landed for the first time in Sydney, Australia. We have just spent the most wonderful month together going to parties and museums, watching sporting events and concerts, and seeing the sites of Australia. Every time I turned around he was surprising me with some new romantic expression of his love. He’d asked what I wanted for my birthday and since the whole skydiving thing was on my bucket list, I told him that. He arranged the whole thing as a weekend long birthday party. We had dinner with his substantial family several times. I’m in love with them all. The hardest thing about being with Simon– and this sound weird to even say it– is that I continually have to increase my capacity for receiving kindness and love. I’m enjoying getting used to being treated so well by someone I’ve come to love so much so quickly. He is teaching me how to receive love on a new level. I can’t help but believe that Mom had something to do with his coming into my life. She looked after me my whole life until I began to look after her. From beyond the grave I feel her love for me continue to wrap me. Simon is the sort of man I’ve always dreamed of. Simon is the sort of man my mother would want for me.

So that’s it. That’s all you get about Simon. Anything else you want to know, you’ll just have to ask him yourself.

So what now? What follows the semicolon? That, I reckon, is up to me and there are a lot of exciting possibilities. I’ll return to Australia in a month to celebrate Christmas and the New Year. Simon will return with me for Sundance Film Festival and to meet my American family in Alabama, New York and LA. I’ve been offered and opportunity to work on a new theatre project in Sydney. It will be my introduction to the Art scene “Down Under.” I’m beyond stoked about that. There’s still a lot of mystery about what lies ahead but I wouldn’t have it any other way. My life is a constantly unfolding adventure.  I know I’ll be fine as long as I continue to turn my will and life over to the care of God as I understand God on a daily basis. I never apologize for my spiritual beliefs.

Keep the emails and messages coming. I always love to hear how your process is going. I enjoy the idea of this continued journey together and I wish you the very best in yours and in what lies ahead.

See y’all soon.

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