Tag Archives: life

How my Strength caused My Paralysis.

We all want to be strong. Right? Am I right for thinking this way?

quote-strength-persistIt seems that we all have a desire to be physically, mentally, emotionally, and/or spiritually strong.  Most of us anyway.  For me, it has always been important to “have a good head on my shoulders”.  I have modeled my life around being as diplomatic to situations as I can possibly be…sharing multiple points of views and relating to many sides of the story.  I grew up this way. I was the first born child in my household and had a very strongly opinionated and hard working mother. It became necessary to understand that there were more sides than just 2 to any given story at any given time. I had to take on the task of being “momma” while Momma was at work and also act as liaison and advocate for my siblings once Momma came home because ultimately she was the final authority in all things.

Momma taught us that we were leaders. Momma taught us that we were strong.

What happens when it all backfires?

I’ve shared before that we were exceptionally poor. Growing up in a house that had only one room…just a box that we played in, slept in, and ate in. No electricity or running water.  I know that all we wanted was to escape.  For a couple of my siblings, their escape was writing.  For me, my escape was physical and the moment that I met someone who told me I could do it…I did it.  I left.

I was ushered into a life of travel and I LOVED it.  I also loved the idea of helping people. I had already “roughed it” most of my life so to travel to 3rd world countries to help build sewer systems or water towers to help others seemed like a dream.  I was introduced to an organization that honed in on my eagerness to lead and my desire for traveling.  At this point, I knew what it was that I wanted to do for the rest of my life.  What I didn’t know was the power that had tapped into me.

It was January of 1993. I had been groomed to attend what was called a Discipleship Training School.  To most Christians, the title of the school seems harmless enough and looking back on most of my training, it was really an amazing school.  We learned about diplomacy, public speaking, travel, working and living communally. We learned about humility and patience…it was a very hippy-esque school but I liked it and this lifestyle liked me too.

Here’s the rub.  See, in all of this, we were getting ingrained to learn a school of thought about chain of command. I had already gotten a good grasp of this while living at home but here at the school, I was one of the younger and newest recruits.  I had MANY people to answer to and many voices to obey.

Head down...don't ask questions.

Head down…don’t ask questions.

It’s so weird to type this out.  My memories of this time in my life carry a desperation and it’s hard to know that I was so easily paralyzed.

We lived a very strict life.  We couldn’t do much without the consent of our leaders. We couldn’t go home to visit family, we couldn’t choose the jobs we wanted, we couldn’t date, we really couldn’t do much of anything…unless we had the approval of our leadership. To this day, it’s still hard for me to see that this WASN’T ok.

I was considered one of the “rebellious” ones. Not so much because I rebelled but because I followed questionable orders with a grimace on my face.  Trust me, I get protocol.  I get the need for a chain of command.  However, I didn’t understand why I needed to be told what to wear, how to wear my hair, who I could date, what I could do with my leisure time, who I could and couldn’t be friends with, when or if I could leave the base to visit my family…and on and on and on.

We weren’t a military base.  We were a Christian organization of missionaries and our leadership had overstepped it’s boundaries from leading to controlling and I had been brainwashed.

I had been brainwashed.  I had been brainwashed.  I had been brainwashed.

Here’s the deal.  Before I left for missionary school, I had been treated for homosexuality.  That’s right, I was gay and had been put through a gay to straight program.  I was told that in order to fulfill my “life calling” I could never act on my homosexual tendencies and in order to learn to be straight, I had to listen to and do everything I was told or I WOULD FAIL.  I would fail at life, fail my family, fail my God, fail at being a leader, fail at being strong.  So… I did what I was told.  I obeyed.

After living in this cult type atmosphere I started to test the waters. I had climbed the ranks in the organization, so to speak, and decided to act on an attraction I had towards another girl in the organization. After a few weeks, our relationship was exposed to the leadership and after 2 years of blindly following their every dictation, including a humiliating “outing” to the entire organization, we were sent home packing.

Photo Credit: Yannick Bouchard

Buried Alive…what it feels like to be paralyzed by fear and control.

Have you ever witnessed someone experiencing drug withdrawals or someone grieving?  Writhing in pain, unable to think, unable to breathe, unable to sleep, unable to bear being alive.  This is what it was like for me.  Everything that I had built my life around and for was taken away.  And it was easy for them to do so.  I thought at this moment that I had forever ended the life I was meant to live.  I was back to square one.

The very thing that I had strived to leave behind…the very thing I had desired to escape became me, once again. I was an outcast.

And still I longed for the escape. I longed to travel and to help people and I longed for the only way that I had learned to do so.

After being relieved of my position, I agreed to complete another gay to straight program in fear that I would never fulfill the purpose God had for my life.  And really, when you’re in that situation, your only thought is do what you’re told or give up living all together.

So…I did it again. I obeyed.

It’s been over 20 years since that journey began.  And since then, I have battled the resentment, the failures, the damage, the brokeness.  Sadly, it wasn’t until today that I realized how much of my life has been affected by what happened during that time in my life.  I still struggle with confidence and standing up for myself.  How do I recover when the desire to be strong backfires? How do you trust yourself to have the ability to make good decisions?  How do you trust yourself to trust the right people?

I have recently stepped back into my career of public speaking. It has been nearly 10 years since I stood in front of a crowd and shared my heart.  I was all but banished from the arena of public speaking in the way that I have always known it. But today, I refuse to count myself out.  I refuse to give up my dreams.  I refuse to be told that I am broken.  I refuse to believe that I have nothing to offer.  My story may not line up with yours. You may not give two cents about anyone who is gay or their journey.  You may have never been so low in your life that you allowed someone from the outside to paralyze you.  I don’t know. But what I do know is that there is someone out there who needs to hear that someone else knows what they are going through.

I will be your someone else.

I have decided that I will be vulnerable by my own volition. I will share my heart again and I will help people again.

I speak on these very topics of Shame, Guilt, Vulnerability, Poverty, and Overcoming Gay Reparative Therapy.  If you have an event that would benefit from these talks or an event that would welcome these discussions, please contact me at Angel Adams Media Services.  And please share this with others…My heart is that no one be paralyzed by someone else’s doing.  We are supposed to be free. We are supposed to be different.  We are supposed to be strong.

You are welcome to follow Angel on this journey.

You are welcome to follow Angel on this journey.

Be strong, my friends.

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ANGEL’S HALL OF FAME: My ever growing list of kindness.

Here it is…the announcement of the day.  Hold on to your butts…it’s a doozey.

I’m not perfect.

There it is…in all its glory.  Announcement #2?  I don’t know how to spell “doozey” but…well…hopefully, you get what I’m trying to say.

I have been reminded everyday how blessed I am despite my awkward existence.  Last week I was reading posts about one of my unwitting music mentors, Amy Grant, releasing a new album next month (“How Mercy Looks From Here” will be available May 14).  This of course, reminded me about the time my sweet friend, Eric worked diligently with my friend Lionel to arrange a meeting with Amy.  A meeting that was so surreal and meaningful to me that even today, I can not be reminded of it without having to wipe a “happy” tear from my eye.  I am so grateful for the thought and work it took to make that moment happen.  I thought about Amy and her music.  Her strength…that pulled me out of dark and sad times during my childhood.  I know that I’ve said this before but to see a woman so young writing and commanding a stage…it changed my life.  It changed my direction.

straight aheadI will be ever in debt to my friend Angela Calhoun for introducing me to “Angels Watching Over Me” and the Straight Ahead album. 🙂

This led me on a two week course of gratefulness and reflection.  Something that I have spent hours a day on as of late.  The more I got to thinking about how blessed I am, the more faces I could see.  People who have impacted me in such great ways.  People who pushed me to be better and raised the bar of compassion, intellect, thoughtfulness, and encouragement, the list is infinite.

From arranging lifetime meetings, buying cribs, car seats and stollers, replacing stolen Christmas money so I could buy my daughter’s first Christmas gifts, hugs and laughs, unexpected letters of encouragement, kicks in the ass that I really need, a surprise coffee, smiles galore at just the right time, a look in the eye that says, “you can do it”, a job, Facebook messages that say, “you’re better than that.”, teachers who make leaving my daughter every day just a little bit easier, French lessons just because, to cleaning my backyard because it looks like a ghetto zoo exhibit <<<yes, that’s true, and did I mention laughs?  Your random and not so random acts of kindness and genuine love for me and my family have built a better human being.  Not quite a bionic Jaime Sommers but SUPER close.

And do you know what I love about these people?  If any of them were to read this, they would ask themselves how they got on this list.  These are the humans that act out of goodness.  They show selflessness and without a thought of what anyone else may think,  they just do because they can.

hall of fame

Heather Threadgill, Sam Snavely, Vicki Peters, Steve and Lori Nance, Michelle Davis, Eric Himan and Ryan Nichols, Erika Hardin and Natalee Pendergraft, Julie Nikel, Lionel Vargas, Stephanie and Joe Christiansen, Cheryl Lawson, Michael and Catherine Ray, Barb Hauxwell, Joel and Kelly Russell, Stacy Acord, CC Lawhon, Kristi Perryman, Virginie Gill Dejour, Staci Walkup, Michael Shoopman, Travis Jackson, Howard Stump, Jessica Butchko, Billy Sauerland, Steven Nix, Kimi Hann and Chris Lieberman, Miranda and Phil Kaiser, Missy Wilson, Chrystal Kelly, Betsy Chase, Courtney and Casey Nichols, Michael and Amanda Mitchell, Janice Sawatsky Sahr, John and Jane Ray, Rebecca Smith, Deke Coop, Stephanie Schrepel, Caleb Taylor, and Jennifer Jako.

To my Hall of Fame:  You have been rocks to lean on and hands to pull me up.  You have been a crutch, a counselor, a clock, a mirror, a party, an icepack, a rope, a map, a compass, a hope, and my teacher.  I have been changed forever (for the good) for knowing you.

Thank you all for your compassion, kindness, and grace. You give me courage and I will never be able to adequately thank you…but it’s a start.


		
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MY terrifying reality of “in-laws”.

in-law (n)

n. A relative by marriage.

I was sharing a funny story today about the video below with a friend of mine and some of the details were about a drive from my house to my in-laws house…which is a pretty good distance.

Now, I know that when I say “in-law”, we all get different pictures in our heads and we’ve all had quite a bit different experiences as well.  There are jokes galore.

A lot of us have heard the term, “Monster-In-Law” and most of us have seen the movie Meet the Parents.  We get that there’s been some less than stellar relationships out there.

 

Mother--In-Laws
So…my story.
I actually have amazing in-laws.  I’ll admit that it was a bit rocky at first.  Their eldest daughter comes out of the closet and reveals that she is gay AND is in a relationship with yours truly.  We had our moments as everyone was evolving to this revelation and the true reality of who my partner is…
It’s 6 years later and I look forward to the times that I get to spend with them.  They treat me as one of their own and I am humbled and blessed to call them my family.
As I was thinking about all of this and in light of the 2 cases that the Supreme Court of the United States, I came to a terrifying reality.
Not my in-law?!?

THEY ARE NOT MY IN-LAWS.

My partner and I are not married.  I’ve called them my in-laws for years now…it’s what everyone understands…it’s our social indicator, our culture.  When referring to our spouse’s/partner’s/husband’s/wife’s family, they are our in-laws.  These are the words we use but by the very definition they do not represent my relationship with my partner’s family.  This was a sad moment for me.  I want to be able to call them my “in-laws” and what its very definition means – a relative by marriage.
With all of this rolling around in my head, it all became clear to me.  Marriage Equality isn’t about religion, pro-creation, science, politics, or even love.  We don’t say, mother-in-religion, father-in-science, sister-in-love. We say IN-LAW.  Marriage is about protection.  Protection under and by the law.  That’s what I want.  That’s what I want for me, my partner, my daughter, my sisters, my brother, my parents…and my in-laws.
It’s not just about me and my partner…this is about my family.
The Love part?  Well…it’s a bonus.  A great and wonderful bonus.
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Oscar’s statue of frozen vulnerability.

SO…I’m sitting here at midnight on a Tuesday evening watching the Oscars on Hulu Plus.  Congratulations to Hulu for creating such urgency for me to sit here and watch the awards show in it’s entirety simply because you said “only one day left for viewing”.

Well, here I am blubbering and smiling for all the winners.  I do this because for me, all awards shows bring such inspiration.  I love these shows.  Even the ones with terrible hosts, technical difficulties, and… when my favorites don’t win.

I’ve been beaming for Adele.  It’s not because I think that her song Skyfall is the best song ever written.  Nor is it because I think that she is the greatest singer.  Although, I can say without a doubt that I really appreciate the gift of her voice.  She is remarkable.  What I saw tonight was a young woman who stepped out and took a chance to follow what her heart was leading her to do.

I gotta say…I, at different times tonight, went from elated to super pissy.  I was so inspired to write and sing and compose that I got all excited and anxious.  And then…it started to spiral.

I’m just going to throw this out there. I’m really frustrated that I haven’t put any music out in a record or single or even freaking cassette tape.  I’m frustrated that I feel like I’m waiting. And waiting. And waiting.  I’m frustrated that I see so many of my musician friends recording all the time.  HOW DO THEY DO THAT?  How are they able to get the people together to learn the music, to go to the studio, to do their part.  How come I can’t seem to pull my shit together enough to make this thing happen.  For crying out loud, I don’t want to be a superstar.  I just want to write songs and let other people sing them and become superstars.  I’m angry.

Then it hit me.

People might crap all over what I have stressed over and poured over and cried over and shared from my guts.  And then I tried crawling back in my shell.  What the hell.  I realize that this is just a stream of thought but follow me.

It’s not about people not liking my music, my voice, or my songs.  I already know that not everyone is going to like my stuff.  Every time I try to write or sing, I hear the voice of a childhood friend tell me that I “shouldn’t quit my day job”.  I know that even some my closest friends aren’t going to like it.  It’s just the way things are and I’m really okay with that.IMG_7202

It’s about where these things come from….my life, my experiences, my emotion.  Raw and  visceral.  By sharing any part of yourself, whether it be acting, music, writing, painting, blogging, you name it …when you choose to share this part of you, you lift a veil.  You lift a veil that so perfectly encompasses your ugly, dark, beautiful, and bright self.  You are no longer protected by what shields you.  This scares the shit out of me.  And I mean this in every sense of the phrase.

Vulnerability.  Being vulnerable.  What a tragically horrifying and beautiful thing.

So, Mr. Oscar, you are a statue of sweat, tears, triumph and vulnerability and if I ever get to place my hands on you, may it be because you have frozen my very self into your being.

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Sure, I’ll jump off this cliff…and hope I make it.

Yes.

Allow me to define it for you.

yes – adv. : It is so; as you say or ask. Used to express affirmation, agreement, positive confirmation, or consent.

1. An affirmative or consenting reply. 2. An affirmative vote or voter. tr.v. yessed, yes·sing, yes·es  To give an affirmative reply to. interj. Used to express great satisfaction, approval, or happiness.


Here’s my thought:  I’ve been knocking around the idea of new ventures for years now but I’ve become quite complacent with my job and content with the security that comes with it.  Back in the day, I thought that I was a super hero of sorts and because of that, took on adventure after adventure without ever having blinked an eye.  I thrived on adrenaline and the “sport” of travel.  Before I was 25, I had discovered 13 countries for myself and lapped up every cultural morsel the world had to offer.

Here I am at 19, traveling on a train somewhere between Minsk, Belarus and Moscow, Russia…some 5600 miles or so from home.

After returning to America, I took on my first dream job and worked as a minister for 4 years (I know, I know…I was a Rev. and some of you are giggling).  After realizing that I didn’t fit into the ministry culture, I resigned that position to work at my next dream job…graphic designer.  Here’s the dealio, I’ve been doing graphic art for 12 years and moved into an Art Director position 8 years ago.  I freaking love it.  In the midst of doing this graphic design stuff, I became a member of an indie rock band called Eric and the Adams. That was four years of adventure, travel and creativity all wrapped into one.  Crazy town.

The last 6 years of my life, I have become happily engaged, bought a home, was the drummer in a rock band, had a child, raised money (not because I’m amazing but because my friends are) for a solo album, worked on tour with a phenomenal musician – learning the hard work of a stage hand, and now….

Well.  Now what?

The message of what I’m trying to convey is that all these humbling opportunities came to me and I had to make a decision.  What do I say?

“Angel, would you like to travel all over the world?”

“Angel,  would you like to come work for me as a graphic artist?”

“Angel, would you like to be the drummer in my new band?”

“Angel, will you record your music?”

“Angel, will you marry me?”

YES!  I said, “Yes.”
Things have been a little strapped because of the way the economy has fallen and I have found myself scrambling to make ends meet.  With that and the very real fact that I mentioned earlier that I just don’t fit the culture of where I am. I realize more everyday that I don’t fit into the traditional role that a patriarchal socially structured environment would want me.  I need to redirect my path.

I have been looking for a way to open doors for myself so that I can step into a new phase of life.

Not too long ago, I was given an opportunity to take a class at a community college here in Tulsa.  It was a radio class.  The class was paid for…all I would have to do is enroll and show up.  If any of you have known me for long, you know that I really enjoy entertaining (when I was younger, I would practice my award speeches out in the yard – I’ve accepted countless Emmys, Tonys, Oscars, and Grammys).  Here’s the sad part…I got wrapped up with too many things that don’t matter, instead of focusing on the stuff that will get me on track.  I didn’t say, “Yes”.  This class would have gotten me on track.  It was my next step and I missed it.  Have you ever done that before…a few weeks later you wish you could go back in time and slap yourself out of your slumber?  Things change for me when I say yes.  No more missed opportunities…

SO, I’m in full preparation of a new chapter…a new “dream job”.  I’ll work diligently at my 9-5er until I can fully step out on my own but let me tell you this…it is not without fear, anxiety, adrenaline, and hope.

photo credit: Stuart Anthony

My partner and I have a running joke from a familiar cliché.

The cliché?  “We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it”.  Our variation?  “We’ll jump off that bridge when we come to it.”

I’m lucky to have a partner who supports my ever growing need to push the boundary, break the glass ceiling, smash socioeconomic class, and jar the mindset of poverty.  I’ll happily jump off this cliff.  I’ve jumped off of so many and it has taken me to places I’ve never dreamed.  My way of opening doors for myself is to say, “Yes”.

SO, I say yes to the things ahead.

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Words For My Eulogy

There’s a guy in Tulsa, Oklahoma who is one of our city’s nicest.  His name is Jeremy CharlesImage

I don’t get to spend a lot of time with Jeremy now that he’s nearly super famous and now that my band no longer exists but, he is still someone that I treasure.  I spend a lot of my social media time creeping his photographs and catch myself grinning at the mere fact that one of the good guys are being treated so well in this universe.  He’s one of those creatives that keep me on my toes to do better…to be better.

Yesterday, while getting caught up on my Twitter, I caught a picture taken by Jeremy at the recent KISS/Motley Crew concert at our beloved BOK Center.  As are most of Jeremy’s photos, this was extraordinary.  However, it wasn’t his photo that caused me to stare into empty space for the next 5 minutes, it was his words.  On two separate occasions, he used words that changed my guts, or what my mom calls my “knower”.  You know that place that exists in you where you “know that you know that you know that you know”?  Yeah, that place lit up…like it was on fire.

I started thinking about the greatness of these words and I realized that if I want these words to be mine…if I want these words to ever be used to describe me then I had better start fitting inside their definitions.  In this case, it was used for KISS and them being titans of rock and their empire of success.

To be known as a titan of anything or be equated to having anything remotely connected to the word empire…can you imagine that?  My mind started racing…the kind of racing where I’m certain you could hear whistles and clacks of train tracks.

I think that I’ll start writing my eulogy and once I get it, it should be a piece of cake…right?  Working backwards from the answer in math was a flawless technique…as long as you freaking understood math.  Let’s pretend that I’ve got my mind wrapped around this universe and go from there.

What do I want for my life, my legacy, and how do I get it?  It only makes sense to start conforming to the words I want people to use to describe me.  Today is the day.  However, it’s not just “the day” for me…it is for you as well.  And I’m curious…what are the words you want in your eulogy?

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Dear God…what have I done.

Seriously, this is the third time that I have started typing a post…what was supposed to be the first post of my life.  I feel like I’ve been flushing a toilet in a rickety twin engine airplane and this tiny hole (a vacuum, if you will) covered with an off-white cracked plastic flap opens and sucks the words right off my screen and into this waste that seems to disappear into thin, crappy, air.

Nonetheless, I have done it. I have succumbed to this…the writing of a blog.  I’m thinking about the fact that there aren’t many folks out there who are interested in reading about the life and times of Angel Adams but I am aware that there are a few around who might be…and for you, I invite you into my heart and head for a journey that I hope we all can see ourselves a part of .  And by the by, I’m not worried about grammar or spelling…well, I’m a little worried about spelling. But for the most part, the words typed in this small window will be spilling out in the form of my thoughts and not so much in the form of my Sr. High English paper as annotated by Mrs. James.  So…suck it.

So…here we are.  The road ahead seems like a long unchartered mess (and that’s my “cup is half full” version) and the road behind is full of potholes that are full of mire and dung (also “half full”).  BUT, don’t let that mislead you into thinking that this is a wah-wah downer of a life story blog.  It is the contrary.  The fun part is that it’s my life…my amazing and incredible “how did I get here” life.  I have trials and triumphs and super tall hurdles that this shorty of a  5’4″ frame finds hugely uninviting but as I type I also hope that you see my every moment is focused on making those hurdles my bitch.

Other than that…I merely take every day as the miracle it is, good and bad. And believe me, there’s a lot of both.  We’re effin human for crying out loud.  Most of the time, I’m just looking around trying to figure out how I got here.  Whether you believe in a higher power or not, you gotta wonder sometimes.  I’m certain that I had no super powers in my possession that could get me to where I am today.  This is my equivalent of “it wasn’t me”.  Take that as you will.

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