I believe that we all seek, and deserve a life of Love and Connection. I also believe that we allow our judgment, fear, and feelings of less than to hold us back. We miss connecting with, and loving self and others. My journey has given me the experience, words, and the passion to help mend this divide.
I was born in 1963 as the youngest of 15 children to Helen and Bernard McNamara. John F. Kennedy was assassinated later that same year. On my fifth birthday in 1968 Martin Luther King Jr. was also assassinated. Both of these men pursued freedom and respect for the forgotten and excluded. I have felt connected to them, and their shared mission for as long as I can remember.
I have 8 sisters and 6 brothers. My childhood was filled with much love and laughter, but little money. My father, a casualty of World War II, came home from combat with an alcohol addiction. His addiction wasn’t uncommon, yet often ignored by a society that had no solution, or simply remained complacent with its denial of a disease that destroys lives. When I was just 4 years old my father left his children, and my mother. I forgave him for this choice. I don’t know if he ever forgave himself. I hope that he did learn, forgive, and leave this earth with peace in his heart.
My mother raised her children on a nurses’ wage, and a deep love for God and family. She taught me how to live a life of love, laughter, and purpose. We had a modest life, the ever-present love and laughter seemed to compensate for the economic struggles. I pursued academic excellence as a way to gain independence, affirmation, and support. I was never perfect, but I pursued perfection relentlessly. In my early 20’s my evolving realization that I was gay challenged my views of self, others, and the beliefs and biases I had inherited from my environment and culture. You see, being gay wasn’t a part of my plan. It didn’t fit with my (then) image of “perfection”, or my desire to be “the good girl.”
I struggled to reconcile who I was with what others expected of me. I wanted to be good. I wanted to be perfect. The images I saw and the narrative I heard all around me told me that being gay was somehow “less than.” In effect, they told me that I was less than. Being gay is a part of who I am, it is not all of who I am. I am also a mother, sister, daughter, friend, aunt, wife, and corporate HR executive. However, it is an important gateway into me – as it has enabled some of the deepest learning of my life. I know that I am not “less than” – and neither are you.
My journey to build a life, be a parent, and have a career has brought great joys and great sorrow. I have felt the pain of rejection, regret, and loss. I have experienced immense joy, and devastating grief. I have built deep and lasting relationships, I have lost others. My greatest joy is the relationship I have with my life partner, Cindy, and our 3 daughters. They have taught me the power of lasting, unconditional love.
One constant throughout my life has been my intrigue with all that makes us human. My chosen profession is Human Resources. HR is what I do. The first word in my title – human – has special significance and importance for me. A big part of who I “am” is a storyteller. I have been writing for over 30 years. I have written about love, loss, the power of healing, and the many things we do to create distance and divide with each other. My motivation is to open hearts and minds through storytelling. My stories are personal to me and my life. The lessons are universal.
I offer words and story to inspire:
Less Suffering – More Healing
Less Distance – More Connection
Less Judgement – More Love
We need a more loving world. Of that I am certain.
-Shelly McNamara - 2017