Recently my Mom expressed some displeasure over the fact I don’t celebrate Christmas. I do give gifts for the family, but pretty much have abandoned all the rest of the trappings. This came about first by childhood traumas around the holiday and a two years preceding that, back then, when I got a total kick in teeth rejection from a new Christian youth group I had joined when I told one guy that I was gay. This all formulated a survival instinct by dissing all religions as exclusionary and hateful, so not a negation of my mother or her life. She held the power of love even when things made no sense, and left this to me. It wasn’t like religion was forced on us, but some circumstances in my life besides that of being gay I had to toughen up to get past them and survive. Not a wholly unique experience, but it was of course tailor made for my awakening and settling down to meditation and the Buddha’s teachings leading to more compassion. Learning to have compassion for myself, first and then develop it for others. Surviving was at times excruciating painful, producing tons of doubts and sarcasm about life.Meditating later in life became a way of dissolving many of my delusions. The icing on the cake for surviving (written especially for younger gays) was meeting my husband who has further taught me naturally Buddha’s teachings with his own experience along the way. He also has remarked that few people when they are older… change, but that I have, of course with his love and inspiration. Combined with some powerful intention built out of suffering the outcomes of my former self. Use your mistakes to further your growth on the path, for they are so designed to allow you to fail and find the need to change. Fall down, get up, dust yourself off...and proceed.