East of Eli

Expand Your Heart and Mind

My dad was born and raised in a small town in northwestern Georgia with ancestors dating back to Virginia in the 1700’s. My mom was born and raised in a small town in western Michigan with some ancestors dating back to New England in the 1700’s and others being late 1800 Scandinavian immigrants. This family history left us with the potential for having very narrow-minded beliefs. Fortunately, my parents laid the groundwork for life experiences to broaden our hearts and minds.

Wanting more out of life, my dad joined the Army and began his travels. My mom met my dad when he was training in the Midwest. Shortly after they were married, my dad was shipped out to the Korean War—a big adventure for a Southern boy from a small town. After the war, my dad was assigned to the U.S. – U.S.S.R. Border Patrol, so he and my mom lived in Germany and travelled around Europe.

Then, they settled back in Michigan to finish college, start careers, and begin a family. I was raised in a predominantly white town in southeastern Michigan. Fortunately, my parents provided opportunities to expand my life circle. Very early in my childhood, the husband of my mom’s Japanese pen pal came to visit our home; I remember fondly that experience meeting a friend from another country. Throughout my childhood, we went on many family trips to Canada and around the U.S., so I gained more exposure to various communities. And, as a teenager, I travelled with my church handbell group to festivals in different states.

I continued to expand my heart and mind as an adult. While my first job out of college only moved me from Michigan to Minnesota, I soon took a temporary assignment travelling in the southeastern U.S. Then, I asked my manager to find me a position in the southwestern U.S., and he did. During these years, I also travelled to Europe twice and Australia once. After a couple of other career moves, I ended up working in the international arena with colleagues of different races, cultures, religions, sexual orientations, etc. And, I travelled for business to countries including the United Kingdom, Australia, Hong Kong, Canada, and Mexico.

Now, I am helping to pass along these broad-minded beliefs to the next generation. My son is being raised in a metropolitan city with friends, classmates, etc. of different races, cultures, religions, sexual orientations, etc. We followed the recent national election and the subsequent outcomes, and he has a greater appreciation of the importance of being involved and voting responsibly. He volunteers through our church, Key Club, and Boys and Girls Club, and we recently jumped at the opportunity to sign him up for a trip to Europe next summer. Besides raising my son with these expanded beliefs, I provide support to various independent writers/directors/producers of LGBTQ content, so they can reach out to others around the world.

I have been blessed with the opportunities to travel and experience various places and people different than me. I believe these types of experiences are important to expanding our hearts and minds. I will continue to provide support to my son and others, so more of these broad-minded beliefs continue to the next generations.

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