Embrace the positive by 'living above the line'

I was recently asked, “How do you deal with all the hatred that is in the world?” The woman who asked me this question has a transgender son, and so I knew she was looking for support from me because I, too, have a transgender son, and there are so many states trying to implement laws against our children.

I gave her a concise answer about looking for the blessings around me and focusing on what is positive in my life rather than focusing on the negativity that often consumes the news, but her question caused me to reflect even further.

I am a mother who writes inspiring quotes down in a journal. When a challenge confronts me and I get stuck, I pull out my book of quotes and look for one that will help me. With this question, I realized that there is one formula that I use more than others, and it has helped me get through many challenging situations. I call this formula “Living Above the Line.”

Positive feelings (Above the Line): Hope, joy, courage, gratitude, openness, compassion, acceptance, patience, humility, love

Negative feelings (Below the Line): Guilt, shame, anger, resentment, ‘my way is the only way’, blame, judgment, fear, worry

I believe I attract what I put my attention and intention on. During the time Aiden, my son, was getting physically assaulted because he did not fit the socially acceptable stereotype of his gender, I realized the more I worried, was afraid and got angry, the more things seemed to happen that were negative.

When I worried that others would bully Aiden, he seemed to get bullied more. When I was afraid that the world was not a safe place for Aiden, he would get into a fight or get physically assaulted. I was operating below the line with negative feelings and attracting more of these things into our lives.

On the opposite side, when I went out and spoke to raise awareness about LGBTQ families and transgender children, when I saw things that made me grateful, or when I looked for ways that I could responsibly make situations better, I became more aware. I found more things to be grateful for, and more blessings came my way.

In other words, when I operated “Below the Line,” I got more negativity in my life. And when I operated “Above the Line,” I got more things that made me feel positive.

Recently, I have had a number of personal challenges. I could tell I was living “Below the Line,” feeling guilty, worried and fearful of the outcome of these situations. But then, as luck would have it, I was writing this article.

I immediately thought of ways I could feel hopeful, grateful and full of joy, and then, two days later, I received a letter from Aiden, published in the Huffington Post through an article that Laurin Mayeno, the mother of a gay son, wrote. You can read the full text of Aiden’s letter, along with other letters from LGBTQ children, at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/laurin-mayeno/to-moms-with-the-superpow_b_9816774.html.

I willingly choose acceptance over judgment, hope over fear and love over hate. And if there was ever a sign that living “Above the Line” was worth the effort, it was Aiden sharing his heart with me.

Editor’s note: This is the second in a series of columns Senior Voice is publishing on various topics from the Diverse Elders Coalition. Each article will look at a different segment of the elder population. Marsha Aizumi is an author, speaker, educator and advocate for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community, a cause she embraced due, in large part, to the harassment and bullying her son experienced throughout high school. Marsha is a regular blogger with the Diverse Elders Coalition, http://www.diverseelders.org, and also sits on the PFLAG National Board of Directors.

This article originally appeared in the Pacific Citizen, http://www.pacificcitizen.org.