What Makes a Marriage

I’m married.  At least K and I feel we’re married.  We’ve already had two marriage “ceremonies”.  One on a beach in Maui, just the two of us, words spoken, rings exchanged, sand ceremony, poetry read, and lots of love.  We consider that one our real marriage ceremony.  It might not, technically, have been legal, but it was sincere, honest, and full of love.  It had everything, everything we needed and wanted anyway.  It was beautiful, and perfect.  The second, not actually a ceremony, was when I walked into the courthouse, paid the filing fee, and left with a domestic partnership certificate for the two of us.  We had to certify that we’d lived together for a certain length of time, by then we’d been together for a few years.

Now, nearly 11 years later, we’re living in Illinois, not Oregon, and in June, when the Illinois marriage law takes effect, we can, once again, get married.  We find this funny by the way.  Not funny that we’ve had to wait for marriage or hope for marriage or long for equality, but funny that this will be our third time.  We joke that maybe this time it will stick.  One can only hope.

All of this has me thinking.  What makes a marriage?

In June we will take our domestic partnership certificate in to the courthouse here in Illinois and exchange it for a marriage license.  They will back date our marriage license to the date we got our domestic partnership, which is great.  It means we will be considered legally married from that date, which was like, oh, six or seven years ago.  I can’t remember.  It wasn’t THE marriage so we honestly don’t even know the date we did it.  I’m sure it says on the certificate.  And, suddenly, miraculously, we will be, after all these years, legally married.

192513_10151471565185802_1069606502_o

The thing is, we are already married.  When we made those vows to each other on that beach in Maui, we meant them.  We didn’t need someone else to sanction it, or tell us it was OK.  We just needed to hear from each other that we loved and were loved in return.

So what’s the big deal about legal.  Well, it is a big deal.  Not so much to us, or to our friends and family who I think all consider us already married as well.  It’s a big deal because we will be protected under the law.  The taxes we pay will, finally, be used to our benefit, and we won’t be paying for other people to enjoy freedoms and benefits that to this point we weren’t allowed.  We will be the same.

The same.  That’s the thing, really.  We are the same as everyone else.  I know I’ve said this before.  We laugh, we love, we have friends and go to family functions with both sides of our families.  We work and do the dishes and go out to dinner and clean our bathrooms and mow our lawn.  We vacation, collecting heart rocks on every trip, take our dogs to the groomer, and go to the movies.  We babysit our grandchildren and buy organic food and go on bike rides.  We live.  We live and yet we’ve always felt just a little bit separate.  We’ve been made to feel separate. We’ve been told we are less than.  We aren’t.  But this is why gay groups have sprung up and gay people have banded together and held each others hands and been out and proud to be out.  We’ve had to. We’ve had to in order to feel what community feels like, since the larger community has shunned and pushed us away for so long.

And now… now we will be the same.  Still ridiculed and feared in same places, by some people, but the same legally.  We will, finally, be included, be part of the larger crowd.  We will be, honestly, the same.  Which is all we’ve ever wanted.  To continue to live normal lives and instead of being gay Tam, I’ll be Tam.  I’ll be Tam and K will be K and we will be married.  Married just like my Mom was married and my grandparents were married and K’s parents are married.

We will be married.  A piece of paper does not make a marriage, but it sure makes a marriage a legal, tangible, and a real thing in the eyes of the law.  It makes it real in the eyes of the community at large, even those who would still try to deny us.  What has, and will always be, real and true to us, will be real and true to our larger community.

Wow.

Whoever Saves One Life, Saves the World Entire

Towering

Towering (Photo credit: Tj Parker Photography)

 

 

 

 

For this reason man was created alone, to teach you that whoever destroys a single soul, he is guilty as though he had destroyed a complete world; and whoever preserves a single soul, it is as though he had preserved a whole world.

— Talmud, Sanhedrin 37a

 

Enhanced by Zemanta

Olympics Commentary, Our Way (Part 2)

Here it is, just what you’ve been waiting for, the second installment of Olympics Commentary, done our way.  Enjoy!

Speed Skating – Men’s 1000 

Shmeegle wins!  No he didn’t, he came in third.  No, he was first. No he wasn’t.  Yes.  Oh, time correction, he’s second.  He had been first.  That’s what I said.  Oh, I thought he was third and the brothers were one and two.  No.  I was confused.  Yes, you were.

Short Track Speed Skating

I love that Apolo is doing commentary.  He knows so much about the sport.  Yeah, and he’s good at it.  He is.

It’s short track, one of your favorite events.  This is crazy.  It’s bedlam out there.  Anything can happen.  Skill and luck have to combine perfectly all at this one moment in order for them to win a medal.

Ooooo, was he touched?  No.  He didn’t medal.  Sad.  Viktor Ahn, formerly a Korea member, is now skating for Russia.  He is?  Yes.  He got the bronze.

Women’s Curling

Want to watch curling?  Women’s?  No.  Ha ha ha!  OK.

Women’s Super Combined

Did you see her face?  She’s so relaxed.  Uh huh. I would look like this (grimacing and clenching teeth).  Ha ha!

I can’t even snow plow.  Ha ha ha!

I can’t believe how relaxed she looks.  They are going like 80 miles per hour.

What are you looking at on your iPad?  Just reading.  Yes, what are you reading?  Just some article on the market.  OK.  By the time you have to fly to Atlanta next week you will be so grateful to watch something else on TV besides the Olympics wont’ you?  Huh?

Now they are on the second part of the event.  Looks bumpy.

Now look at her face, she’s concentrating so hard.  Bug eyed.  Yes.  Focused.

Is she going to do it?  YES.  Awesome.  Her fourth Olympics.  Cool.

 Men’s Moguls

That’s so sweet.  That just made me cry.  So touching.  His relationship with his brother is awesome.

Oh, it’s this again.  It’s the men’s final.

Oh look, American Idol is on.  Let’s watch it.  OK. We are recording, we can come back to the Olympics.

… after American Idol.

Two Man Luge

They go down together, on one sled.

Women’s Halfpipe

Drop in.

Ooooo… that looked bad.  She’s out.

I love that shot.  Up high like that?  Yeah, it’s what they see.  Look at that.  So cool.

Listen to Weston snoring.  He’s dreaming.

Is this almost over?  It’s 11:00.  Yes.  This is the last event.  Good, it’s bedtime.

Ouch.  That hurts. That was a bad fall.

That was a big yawn.  I’m sleepy.

Men’s Speed Skating – 1500

Look at their thighs.  Wow.

I want to see the Luther twins.  You mean Muhler?  Yeah, I want to see the Muhler twins.  Luther Muhler Muhler Luther.  Oh, it’s Mulder.

He looks pained.  Oh man.

Where’s that photo of us speed skating in Lake Placid?  ha ha ha!  Oh yeah.  Let me go look.  Here’s the one of you.  Ha ha ha!  I’m posting it.

Here’s the guy.  Shani Davis.  He looks like he’s slowing.  Oh no, he’s not even going to medal.

Sochi-Olympics-NBC-2014-Images-540x303

Women’s Downhill

Ooooooo.  That’s gotta hurt.  Is she USA?  No.  These women are unbelievable.  That was terrible.

If you crashed on this course how could you even ski it again.  I’d be terrified.  I don’t know.  They are flying.

Look how steep that is. Wow. Ew.

I love the people in the start gate who are yelling at them.  Uh huh.

Speed Skating – Women’s 1000

I love this chocolate pudding with the toasted coconut.  Tastes like an almond joy.

Women’s Skeleton

Look at the bird.  Isn’t that cool?  Yes, that is cool.

Head first.  Man, that’s fast.

Nickotina?  Nickotna.

The butter on the toast?  My honey loves that analogy.  Butter on the toast.  I do.

One curve at a time.

Men’s Ski Slopestyle

I wonder if he will tap the doll?  Nope.

He has poles.  That first guy didn’t.  He has time to adjust his jacket.  Ha ha!  Yes he does.  Wow, that was huge.

… hums the Olympic theme

He cracked the egg.  Where is he from?  France.  With his dreads and huge clothes.  He will have scrambled egg.  Wait, he’s from Sweden.

Oh, he landed backwards.  OH, c’mon dude, make it.  He did.  He landed backwards again.  He’s an American dude.  That was very good.  He’s number one.  By a lot.

Nice stretch.  Sometimes a woman just has to stretch.

He touched the doll.  He did?  Yes.  I didn’t see it.  Rewind.  Yep.  He touched the matryoshka doll.  What is a matryoshka doll anyway?  I’m looking it up.  Oh, it’s one of those nesting dolls.  That must be their actual name.  Who knew.  Hmmm.

There’s big pants.  I wonder why he wears those big clothes.  More comfy I guess.  How could they be more comfy, look at how they sag down like that.

Don’t be so excited honey.

Nose butter?  Did he just say nose butter?  Yes.  What is that?  I have no idea.  His pants are falling off.  He has straps.

He’s the dog lover.  He has taken all these twitter pics of himself with stray dogs in Sochi.  He’s paying to get some vaccinated.  I love the dog lover.

Muting TV and yelling to K upstairs… Huh?  I didn’t say anything.  Oh, OK.

There’s the little dude.  He says, give me a joint and I’ll go down.  Ha ha ha!  Oh, dude, that was amazing.  He could be a pants model.

He’s not in the top 8.  Why?  Because he’s short.  They take off points for being short.  No they don’t.

Ooooooo!  That was awesome.  Watch him land.  That was so perfect.  Look at that happiness.

Different rails have different points.  I don’t know if tap the doll is more points or if it’s an easy one.  That was a pretty big backseat right there.  Honey, you know the lingo.  He looks like a girl. Don’t be sexist.  I’m not, look at him, he looks girlish.  OK, you’re right.  He does look like a girl.  See.

The U.S. Sweeps.

Men’s Figure Skating Short Program

Oh no, he had to withdraw.  He’s in pain.

Ooooo.  Wow.  He crashed into the wall.  He’s going to get up and finish.  Wow.  That was a terrible fall.  That was.  Ouch.  That didn’t feel good at all.

Nice pony tail.

He waves goodbye, smiling.  And then goes to have surgery.  Ha ha ha!

They have a lot of different things they wear.  Yeah, it’s the swag.  They get all of it when they make the team.  It’s a lot, this coat, those pants when they ski, that sweater from the opening ceremonies, and pajamas.  ha ha ha!!  They probably have pajamas with a drop seat.  It is Russia.  It’s cold.  ha ha ha!!

Olympics Commentary, Our Way (Part 1)

Controversy aside, K and I are watching the Olympics.  I can’t help myself.  Neither can she.  We watch, we get inspired, we feel the universal connection.  And, we do our own commentary.  Truthfully, we don’t just do commentary for the Olympics.  It’s a nightly, daily, hourly occurrence in our house.  But when the Olympics are on we seem, without even trying, to amp it up a tad more.  I feel Bob Costas has nothing on us.  In fact, I think we have  second career possibility here.  Really, we do.

Sochi-Olympics-NBC-2014-Images-540x303

So without further ado… Olympics Commentary, done our way.

Opening Ceremony

Uh oh, that ring didn’t open up.  Faux pas.

Wow.  Look at the size of those sets.  What is that?

You know, I don’t know much about Russia.  Other than all the propaganda and cold war stuff we were fed.  They are so far removed from us I don’t really have a clue about their lives.  Yeah, me either.  That’s one thing I love about the Olympics, you do get a peripheral sense of a country from it.  A bit more of an insight.  That part will be interesting.  Yeah, I agree.  Russia has produced some kick ass artists, composers, and writers though.  Very creative.  Must be the cold long winters.

Is that woman next to Putin his wife or daughter?  I have no idea.  Is he married?  I don’t know.

I don’t really like all of this stuff, the show.  You like the show, but not me.  I know you don’t.  I do though.  I like the whole of it, start to finish.  Opening ceremonies all the way through to the closing.  It’s all a part of it.  The athletes stories, the bits about the culture.  I like it.  I know.  I don’t.  I like the sports.  Yes honey, I know.

I always cry during the Olympics.  I pretty much cry through the whole thing.  It’s very emotional to me.

Men’s Slopestyle

He tapped the doll.  What doll?  The big doll.  I didn’t see a doll.  Rewind.  Oh, there it is.  I love that doll.

Team Figure Skating, women’s short program

I just need to pull this suit out of my ass.  (speaking as if she was the skater)

There’s a guy from here who got 19th today. A guy from here? Yeah, a guy from here. What sport? Snowboarding? I guess it could have been figure skating. He was from here? Yeah, I heard it in the radio. From here? Yes. From here. I’m looking it up.

Women’s Moguls

It’s hard on your knees to do moguls. When they are 60 they’re going to feel it.

I love Liberty Mutual’s commercial campaigns.  They did that responsibility project thing and now the campaign is called rise.  So good.

That guy from here was in the speed skating.  Huh?  That guy, from here.  The one who got 19th.  I looked it up.  It was the 5000.  Oh, cool.

Luge

I love luge.

I would do luge if I could sit up.

They don’t do anything in luge.  They just lay there.  They have to steer and stay aerodynamic.  Yes, but they don’t really have to exert themselves.

Pampers.  Inspired by babies.  Did it really say that?  Yes.  Yes it did.

Men’s Ski Jumping, Normal Hill

If they were naked.  You mean if they jumped naked?  If they were naked it would be just skin.  Skin tight.  That’s as aerodynamic as you can get. It might be breezy.  Could be a little bit cold.  What if they just dipped you in colored wax.  Like for their countries?  To match their countries? Yeah.  If they just dipped them in colored wax they would be aerodynamic.  I know, yes, wait, they should have those birdman suits.  Those wings.  Then they could really fly.  That would be totally cool.  They would have to have longer landing zones if they wore those birdman suits.  Yeah, but it would be cool.  Yes it would.

Jazz hands.  And now, Mickey Mouse hands.

We will have to watch that show.  What happened to that show with that little dude?  Touch?  Yes, did they cancel that?  We watched it for two seasons.  Then, it just stopped.  That was very profound.

Remarkable collection of humanity, I like that.  I like that too.

Figure Skating Team Competition, Women’s free program

She’s the one with the butt.  I don’t know what it is about her outfit.  I don’t like it.  Oooo, ouch, that’s going to leave a mark.

Yes, OK, she was born in Siberia.  She moved to Sochi when she was two.  Thank you.  Sometimes I have a memory.  I was paying attention.  I have a secret crush on her.  I know her life story.  Creepy.

She’s very flexible.  She can only do that because she’s 15.  Yeah.

Oh, bobble.  She’s not perfect.  There she goes.  That’s so weird-looking.

There’s Putin.  He looked happy.  Yeah.  He says to himself, I’m going to date her someday.  Ha ha ha!!  Well, he was dating that other one.  She looked young.  Or, it was RUMORED he was dating that other one.

Women’s Slopestyle

She didn’t tap the doll either.  They are nowhere near high enough to tap the doll.  Ooooo, that had to hurt.

That was a backside 180.  Isn’t it OK she hit her backside?  Ha ha!  She should get extra points for that.

Nobody is going to think this is funny except me and you.  That’s OK, we think it’s funny.  True.  Weston and Riley would think it’s funny.  Weston and Riley are unimpressed with the whole thing.  They are sleeping.

How come all these snowboarding girls are cute.  I don’t know.  Is that a requirement?  They’re all blonde.

She was having such a good run.  Uhg!  Right at the end.

Men’s downhill

Wow.  These guys are insane. Oooo, look at that.

There’s a guy in that tree.

He didn’t win.  I don’t even want to watch it anymore.  So sad.  Move on.

I Offer This…

It is the holiday season now.  I’m filled with both a sickness about the greed all around and a warmth and love and gratitude for the gifts in life I’ve been given.  These two do not live exclusive of each inside me.  They live and breathe together, making my thoughts this time of year slightly muddled.  Waffling back and forth between these two I cry at the injustices and cruelties perpetuated every day in the name of power and that never ending black hole of “more”, and then I smile and feel overwhelmed with joy by the goodness and beauty in my life.  I sing inside with possibility and hopefulness about the human condition and the kindness of strangers.  I curse the cruel and power hungry, and ache for those who are cold and hungry this time of year.

I’m of two minds.

Then I say to myself… zip it.  Zip.  Shh.

I am currently filled with an overwhelming feeling of love.  Love for family I have close and those who are far away from me but who live in my heart every minute of every day.  Love for friends near and far who lift my heart with laughter and connectedness and a joy I am so lucky to recognize is there.

I sit here watching the kids and my honey build the new configuration of Sebastian’s train track.  It’s quite an undertaking.  They are somehow managing to stay calm and I am somehow managing to keep my opinion out of it. Three opinions are enough.  They are getting it done with laughter and cooperation.  I keep writing.

Christmas snuck up on us this year.  Thanksgiving later than usual lessened the time in between.  Consequently we were unprepared and haven’t realized even half the things we dreamed we’d get done.  No worries.  The things aren’t important.  Not really.  Yes, I’m referring to the buying of gifts.

I love giving gifts.  Always have.  I don’t much enjoy getting them.  OK, honestly, I do enjoy getting them, but am always, with the exception of getting gifts from my honey, uncomfortable with having others watch me open gifts and then knowing how to respond to said items in an appropriate way.  I think I’m slightly off in this regard.  I don’t often know how to be when I get a gift.  My default is always to smile and say thanks.  I think it works.  I’m still always slightly uncomfortable.

And that’s just about enough of the gift talk….  almost.  I always appreciate getting gifts and recognize the fact that the people or persons who’ve given them to me do so with affection.  I recognize this.  I appreciate it.  I’d just much rather be the giver of gifts than the receiver.  Tomorrow, however, on Christmas Day, I will get gifts.  And, truthfully, I will love them, whatever they are.  I’m an oxymoron.

A word on holiday cheer… I’m drinking a bit of wine right now.  Very cheerful.

I think it’s tough to feel so lucky about what I have in life without thinking about how there are so many people out in the world who don’t have the family and friend support I have, who maybe don’t have enough food or warmth or love in their lives.  And once again I’m back to the ache I feel for those who may be less fortunate than I.  Sadly, there are many of those as I am mightily fortunate.

I am of two minds.

The wine cures this conundrum and adds to it.

Preparations are nearly done for the big reveal tomorrow when two small boys, one three year old in particular, will rush down to see what Santa has brought to the house, how many cookies he might have eaten of those that were left for him, and how many nibbles on carrots Santa’s reindeer might’ve taken.  It will be a fun and glorious thing.  Love in a short and glee filled package.  There’s no waffling about that.  He and his brother are light and love and wishes fulfilled.  I am blessed beyond measure.

Merry Christmas to all… and to all a good night.

On Being Emotionally Correct

I’ve written and ranted over and over on this blog about being kinder to each other, about trying to be more compassionate, about listening instead of finger pointing, about being open instead of so closed we stop speaking the same language, about love and understanding.

Today I came across this bit from Ted Talks (which I love by the way) and Sally Kohn, who I’d honestly never heard of before today. She happens to be gay and liberal, but sexual orientation and politics don’t really factor into her message here.  In this talk she speaks about emotional correctness and how having a little compassion and understanding and openness can change the way we talk to each other.  It can change the conversation.  I might lead to change.  I couldn’t agree more.

Note:  There is a brief bit of language in here, if something like that might offend you. It’s really in context and she’s quoting someone, but I didn’t want to shock anyone who might be put off by that. And even if a bit of language is something that could put you off, you should look past it and listen, the message is worth it.  We could all use a bit more emotional correctness in our lives and in the world at large.

If You Give a Little Love, You Can Get a Little Love of Your Own

Yes, grand gestures are awesome, but it’s the small things we do every day that really make a difference.

Parts of this video include footage from the Liberty Mutual campaign called the responsibility project.  It’s by far my favorite ad campaign.  All about doing small things to help our fellow beings, human and animal alike.  Good deeds, just like bad deeds, create a wave.  As the wave moves it picks up and grows.  Lets use our power for good people.  We have a choice.  Choose love and help and kindness over fear and animosity and cruelty.  If you give a little love, you can get a little love of your own.  Positive energy instead of negative energy.  It’s a choice we make hundreds of times a day in small ways and big.  Think, and be better.  I’m trying.

 

Thankful Everyday – Day Twenty-Nine

29.  I’m thankful for travel.  I’m lucky enough to have been a few places.  K and I love to experience a new place; the people, the smells, the tastes, the culture, a window into the way people live their lives.  We love this.  I’ve loved it since I was young and our family headed out on one road trip after another.  I loved it when I went to Europe for the first time when I was 16.  I love it when K and I go on a car trip that can last a day or a couple of weeks.  I love it when we pack and bag and fly off to who knows where or jump on a cruise ship or take a train ride.  Traveling brings a sense of how large the world is, and yet it also brings a feeling of sameness and smallness.  People are people, everywhere.  Loving, searching, laughing, angry, happy, striving, living — the same.  Travel gives you a window to that.  It also gives a sense of wonder about the world. There are amazing things to see and wonderful people to meet.  This world of ours is a fantastic place.  However we travel, being out on the road with a backpack, a camera, and my honey is about the best place to be.

10560705413_008425378c_b

 

Even If I Tried – Even If I Wanted To

I just really listened to the lyrics of this song and it made me cry. Crying is not unusual for me, I’m emotional. It’s just that this basic message is one I want to shout from the rooftops — we are all people, all living our lives. So be kind, don’t judge, and love your fellow human for being just that, your fellow human. The end.

Thankful Everyday – The Fourteenth

14.  I’m thankful for the water around me.  Whether it’s clean drinking water, a warm shower, snow, a lake to kayak in, a pool to swim in, ice for my drink, a river to fish in, rain, or an ocean to be amazed at I am so grateful and thankful for all it’s lovely forms.  I’m a water girl.  I learned to swim at a young age and have spent many hours near or on the water creating memories with family and friends.  It’s a gift and a blessing I appreciate whole heartedly and don’t take for granted.  I’m lucky, and thankful, it’s so readily available to me.  I know others don’t have it so lucky.

563385_10151911680790802_653797580_n

To Be Human

So much of how we see ourselves is based on how our peers, our friends, our family, and our community sees us.  Yes, if you are a person with good self-esteem you can be in the world as a more confident, relaxed, grounded individual.  But even the most secure person struggles, at times, with how they think other people see them.  We are constantly being influenced by what our friends, family, and society think of us.  Whether we like it or not, whether we know it or not, whether we admit it or not.  We carry those opinions, thoughts, comments, with us throughout the course of our lives.  Little voices of disapproval or questions about our actions, our look, and our direction pop up occasionally as annoying ghosts in our minds.  It happens to me.

I’m a pretty relaxed confident person in that I don’t care much what others think of me.  OK, more accurately, I may care a bit, but I don’t let that influence the decisions I make and the way I am in my every day life.  Most of the time.  Keyword — most. It’s strange how those little voices come up at the strangest of times.  How those negative experiences, comments, criticisms, stay with us over time, no matter how hard we try to exorcise them from our heads and our lives.

When I was a kid I spent a significant amount of time with my paternal grandmother.  She loved me so much, treated me so well.  She was not a nice person.  As I grew I realized she didn’t treat my brother as well as she treated me.  She called him names, excluded him from activities, made comments about him.  When I realized this I slowly stopped spending time with her.  I loved her, but she wasn’t good to him and I loved him.  It was my little way of standing up to her, and my not wanting to be around that sort of behavior and negativity.  Even as a kid I felt that stuff profoundly.  Negative emotion, action, etc.  I can’t stomach it.  No matter how many toys you buy me.  My aunt, who was this same grandmother’s daughter and my dad’s sister, didn’t get along that great with her own mother because of this playing favorites type of mentality. Yet, she was her.  Maybe it was to make up for how my grandmother was, but my aunt, who treated my brother like a little prince, was not nice.  She was not nice to me.  She called me names, excluded me from activities, and made comments about me.  Once, when my brother and I were at her house we were eating a meal.  She looked at me and said, “you eat like such a pig”.  Bam.  There it was.  That moment changed me a little bit forever.

For years, and even still once in a while, that little line pops into my head.  Because of that line when I was a teen and a young adult I never liked eating in front of people.  I was so self-conscious, always afraid people would see the pig in me.  The pig that she’d noticed and pointed out.  The pig that in reality didn’t exist, but existed after her comment so much in my head and my heart.

Ouch.

I grew, and grew out of those feelings.  My self-esteem took a long time (for not just this reason of course) to grow and blossom, but it did.  I realized it was her problem and that I had never been a pig, but it informed so much of how I was in the world for so long.  Perceptions.  Judgements.  Those ideas other people have of us and those we have of ourselves can be cruel and are often wrong.  I saw myself as a pig because she’d seen me that way.

We tell ourselves internal stories.  Stories about ourselves, about our world, about the people we see all around us — friends, family, strangers.  We do this all the time.  It’s how we explain things, people, interactions, relationships, to ourselves.  These stories, told as a constant monologue in our heads, are our way of explaining our world to ourselves.  This is what that means, this is what that looks like, this is how this or that person must be, and on and on.  They are really just our stories, even if they are about other people, because they are based solely on our own thoughts and experiences.  Our experience of ourselves, our histories, the path we’ve been on.  Our experiences inform our stories.  Always.

We can never, and I repeat, NEVER, know another person’s story.  Not really.  We think we do, we assume things and place expectations on every other person we know, see, and meet, based on what’s happened in our own lives, based on what we’ve been told, and based on what we’ve been through ourselves.  But these stories and assumptions and ideas about people are false truths.  We get arrogant and judgmental and place unfair expectations on others based on what we think we know of them, what we think we see, or what we think we would do in their place.  Instead of really knowing what we’re talking about we often fill in the blank with our own ideas of a person or a situation.  These ideas coming from, again, what our own thoughts and experiences have told us must be true.  We, as humans, do this all the time.  I do it all the time.  I try not to.  I fail.

To look at another person and automatically assume you know what they should do, how they are as a person, or how they should act, is arrogant.  To hear about another person, another group, and assume things about them without having any real interaction with them is wrong and it’s sad.  It’s harmful to them, to ourselves, and harmful to the world.  It automatically separates us from each other instead of connecting us.  Any time judgement seeps into a thought, a conversation, an opinion, we’ve lost a bit of ourselves.  We’ve lost a bit of humanity.

This is not a particularly flattering story to tell on myself, but here I go none the less.  Years ago I worked at a prison for kids.  This particular one was called a youth correctional facility, but it was a prison.  I’d just turned 23, and a few months earlier had graduated from college with a degree in psychology.  I fancied myself as liberal, open, and non-judgmental.  Part of the orientation were these little tours of the different units at the facility.  One of those units, a place called the Secure Intensive Treatment Program, was on the tour.  This particular unit, which I would end up working at three years later, after a lot more experience, was where the kids who’d committed murder and attempted murder were housed.  Basically it was what would be called maximum security in an adult prison.  I walked in there with expectation, pre-conceived notions, and prejudices I wasn’t even aware I had.  When I walked in I thought I didn’t have any prejudice, any judgement of others.  By the time I walked out I knew I was sadly and shockingly wrong about myself.

Ouch.

Part of the tour of this particular unit, other than a staff member telling me about what they did there, was a tour of the unit by a kid who lived there.  I heard this from the staff and immediately started looking around at the kids in the unit.  There were all sorts of kids there, pretty much all races and ethnic backgrounds represented.  In my mind I zeroed in on this one particular kid.  I’m not sure why.  He was big, and gruff looking, and African-American.  I was instantly afraid of him.  There were other kids there that pretty much fit his same description, but I kept saying in my head, please don’t let my tour guide be that kid.  Any other kid, but not him.  Fate has a sense of humor.  The staff couldn’t read my mind, but sure enough, he ended up being the kid the staff picked out to show me around.  I introduced myself, he introduced himself, and off we went to the various parts of the program.  He was soft-spoken, thoughtful, and explained the ins and outs of the place with wonderful perspective and detail.  I liked him instantly.

My experience, which was non-existent with criminals, very limited with African-Americans, on the fringe with people who were gruff looking, and nil with teen felons, filled in a story about this kid.  Before I even started talking to him I thought, I assumed, I knew who he was and because of those perceptions and assumptions I was afraid of him.  I was sure he would be dismissive and sarcastic and intimidating.  Sure of it.  I knew he would be scary to talk to and deal with.  I couldn’t have been more wrong and I learned a big lesson that day.  A lesson about myself and about how we see our fellow humans without even knowing them.  How we judge without having any real experience, the experience which then lets us know someone and understand them.  Let’s us see them honestly, and in a real way.

These are the traps, the stories, and the falsehoods we find ourselves in.  We go there all the time.   Intentionally or unintentionally.  I know I do.  I don’t mean to.  I try to be my better self, but I know I don’t always succeed.

The homeless are many in Portland, where I used to live.  When I was a kid visiting Portland for various activities at various times they were called bums (which speaks a lot to our judgmental nature as people).  Later on, when I was an adult living in Portland there’d be the every so often news story about the homeless problem.  I used to avoid them at all costs, try not to look them in the eye, and generally sort of pretend they didn’t exist.  I assumed I understood them, knew things about them, without knowing them at all.  Harsh, but true.  I’m not proud of it, but there it is.  On the other hand I was always sensitive to kids who lived on the street.  I worked with teens and had (still have) a soft spot for them.  I don’t know why but I’ve always loved that at risk youth population.  They are tough and vulnerable and resilient and sensitive.  Many are just downright amazing.  I had experience with homeless teens so when I saw a homeless kid on the street I often gave them some change, said hello, acknowledged them in some way.  I looked them in the eye and I saw them.  Adults living on the street — that was different for me.  I had no experience with them, other than what the media portrayed and what I’d heard other people say, so I’d avoid eye contact and walk quickly past to avoid any sort of interaction that might happen.  I didn’t really see them at all.  Where’s the humanity in that?

Ouch.

Things changed, my perceptions were altered, when on my second date with K we met a homeless woman.  We were sitting outside at a café having coffee.  The date had been going on for a while.  We were having great conversation, enjoying each other.  I saw this homeless woman half a block away, heading our direction.  She hadn’t noticed me yet so I did what I always did, I avoided her gaze, I looked away.  But as fate would have it, she approached us anyway and asked for money for coffee.  I didn’t know what to say, hemming and hawing, looking around, being generally uncomfortable.  But K — she rocked it out.  She looked at the woman, in the eyes, and said that she wouldn’t give her money but she’d buy her a coffee.  The woman said she didn’t like the coffee from the place we were sitting in front of and wanted the money so she could buy it elsewhere.  K offered to walk down the street with her to buy her coffee at another place.  The woman still refused and again asked for money.  K then offered up her own cup of coffee to the woman, who again refused and then walked away.  The point of this is I learned a great lesson that day, one of many from the woman who is now my wife.  Compassion, interaction, and most importantly — acknowledgement.  K saw that woman.  She interacted with her.  She didn’t avoid or dismiss or shun.  She engaged and talked in a meaningful and genuine way.  I loved her all the more for that.  And I learned something from her.  Now, when I see a homeless person, I see them.  I look them in the eye, I say hello.  I now, because of real experience, see the homeless as people.  People whose stories I don’t really know.  People whose experiences, the experiences that led to their homelessness in the first place, I have no way of knowing and definitely no right to judge.

I was perusing the internet the other day and came across a video of a homeless veteran who had agreed to do a little exercise with a crew of people from a ministry who have made it their mission to work with, help, and try to enrich the lives of homeless veterans.  They did a time-lapse video of the exercise.  In it they cut and colored his hair, trimmed his beard, and put a new set of clothes on him.  He couldn’t see himself until after the transformation has happened.  Finally, when they were done they brought out a huge mirror and showed him to himself.  He was stunned, mouthing the word wow before he got up and hugged a member of the team.

Seeing this video started me thinking, which led to this blog post.  This guy, who in the beginning looked exactly like what you’d expect a homeless person to look like, looked like a CEO of a company when they were done with him.  A haircut and a change of clothes is all that really happened, but it changed the perception of him.  Ours and his own.

We carry what others think of us, say about us, and the judgements they make of us around inside of ourselves.  Those thoughts and judgements always end up incorporating themselves into our lives, into the framework that makes up who we think we are.  It happens to each of us and when it does it makes us uncomfortable, chiseling away at our foundations, even though we try to keep those judgements at bay.  Yet, we turn around and do it to others.  We see people, groups, other humans and we think we know them, without knowing them.  We make up stories about them without hearing their stories.  We judge, without knowing anything about their real experiences.

Ouch.

We should know better.  We obviously don’t know better.  We should strive to do better.

Maybe if we think the best of the people around us, they will think the best of themselves.  Maybe if we work hard at being interested and connected with people they will be interested and connected.  Maybe if we treat each other with kindness and compassion instead of judgement and accusation they will be more kind and compassionate.  Maybe, just maybe, if we treat people as human beings, they will be more human.  And maybe just the act of being more connected, and compassionate, and kind, and human gives us each a bit more humanity.  Maybe if we listen more and judge less the stories we tell ourselves will contain more fact than fiction.

Maybe…

Love

I’m actually sitting here at a loss for words.  Shocking.  Yesterday I was jumping up and down, crying, pumping my fists in the air, and trying to mouth the words, “it passed!” to K who was on the phone in a meeting for work.  It was a comedy of sorts.  She involved in her meeting, me jumping and crying and trying to shout without saying a word.  She mouthed the words, “what’s up?” and I just kept whispering that it passed.  We had a mini failure to communicate until she just asked the person on the phone to wait a second, held her hand over the headset mic, and said, “what’s going on?”.  I could then finally answer aloud.  “It passed!  It passed!”  She got excited, had to tell the person she was on the phone with what I’d just said.  Finally, we could semi celebrate together.  When she got off the phone we hugged each other.  I was still crying.

I spent over two hours yesterday with headphones on, computer tabbed to the state house feed, listening and watching the debate about the Illinois marriage bill.  It was infuriating, enlightening, glorious, encouraging, a tad scary at times, and ultimately wonderful.  Whether people said things I agreed with, or not, it was fascinating to watch and listen to the process.  When the vote finally came it happened so fast it was almost anticlimactic.  They vote electronically so it took less than 10 seconds.  Bam.  Done.

I don’t expect everyone to agree with me on this.  After all, there are many people, who for religious reasons, feel my right to marry who I love is wrong.  And, oh well.  I don’t expect people to agree.  It’s a divisive issue.  Always has been.  I see it as the civil rights issue of our time, and others see it as a religious issue.  I could argue that, as I have in the past on this blog, but today I won’t.  Today I guess maybe I want to write about love.

I am in love.  Since April of 2003, and if I really admit it to myself it was probably a couple of months earlier, I’ve been in love.  In the beginning I was scared as hell.  Me being in love with a woman was not something my family would expect and at that point didn’t know anything about.  So I was scared.  In love, but scared.  Would they accept her, would they cast me out, would they turn their backs or talk behind mine?  One of the reasons I kept being gay a secret for so long was because I didn’t want to go from being Tam to being gay Tam.  Because whether people mean to or not, that’s exactly what happens.  You suddenly become something different from what you were to other people.  Not always in a bad way, but different none the less.  I didn’t want that first perceived difference, until I met her, and then I didn’t want to keep it a secret or hide her from everyone in my life.  I wanted her to be a part of my family.  I wanted to live a whole and authentic life and to do that I had to tell my truth.  So I did.  And yes, I became gay Tam.  But then — then I was just Tam again.

A lot happened right after the coming out thing, as you can imagine, but what mostly happened was a whole bunch of acceptance and love.  Love.  I have friends who are pretty religious people, but they still loved me.  One of them, a super spiritual Christian guy, came to see me in person and ended up telling me he loved me, no matter what, and that it wasn’t his job to judge or condemn me.  You know, the judge not lest ye be judged thing.  I love him for that.   I respect him for that.  And I respect his beliefs.  We differ, but that’s OK.  My grandmother, who my mom elected to tell (with my permission of course) said, and I quote, it was about time I came out.  ha ha ha!  That still makes me smile and laugh.  She’d suspected, she kind of already knew, she was OK with it, and had been impatient for me to just say it already.

Love.

I think I was surprised at how well people just sort of accepted K into our family, into our lives.  Friends I’d had forever accepted her as well.  People treated us as if we were just like every other couple.  Because, you know, we were.  We are.  We’re the same — mortgage, dogs, making dinner, working, pulling weeds in the garden, going for walks, taking vacations, watching dumb television shows, having the occasional argument, babysitting the grand boys, grocery shopping.  Same.  We love.  We are loved.

I’m lucky.  I know this.  When I say it’s not every day people find the kind of relationship we have, I mean anyone.  Gay, straight, somewhere in the middle.  People strive for this, this thing we have.  This absolute certainty that we are.  We are more than just meant for each other or made for each other or any of that.  We are.  Simple.  When I met her it was as if everything snapped into place, an audible click.  Home.  I still feel that way.  Lucky.

Yes, alright — we argue and somehow she puts up with me when I get too emotional.  I put up with her need to do a million things at once which sometimes leads to her not listening as well as I’d like.  We do struggle at times.  Of course we do.  We aren’t perfect.  What’s great is that no matter how much we struggle or how angry we get or how hard things sometimes feel there’s never a feeling of wanting to end it, or go, or take a break, or any of that.  The tough stuff always makes us stronger as a couple if we let it.  We let it.  We can’t imagine our lives without each other in them.

We’re lucky.

Love.

We’ve already been married twice.  To each other.  This makes me smile.  The first time we got married we were alone on a beach in Hawaii.  We’d purchased rings and found our spot and did it ourselves.  Words spoken, rings exchanged, happy tears shed, poetry, and a sand ceremony she’d surprised me with.  We still have that bottle of sand.  We’ve considered ourselves married since then.   I think, really, we’ve considered ourselves married since that first date.  I know I was.  It’s why we count our anniversaries from then.  But the ceremony in Hawaii was a real marriage for us.  Maybe not sanctified or certified or papered in any way, but real none the less.  The second time we got married Oregon had just passed a domestic partnership law.  I worked for a county in Oregon at the time so during a break I walked down to the proper desk, paid the fee, we filled out the paperwork, and a week later there it was, our certificate of domestic partnership.  Not really a marriage, but a legal thing, even if it seemed slightly empty in a way.  We laughed, but at least that, combined with the $1600 in paperwork we’d done with an attorney, sort of protected us as a couple.  Sort of.  I say this because later, when at different times we were each hospitalized, we had to give the hospital with our powers of attorney, etc. so that we could make decisions for each other.  It added a stress regular couples don’t have to deal with.  Nothing like worrying if you’ll be kicked out of your wife’s room because she isn’t legally your wife.  Luckily those strangers were kind and gentle and accepting.  So much so one of the nurses mentioned to us how fantastic our relationship was and that she rarely saw a couple so devoted.  It was a compliment.  It was a commentary.  It spoke directly to the we that is us.

192513_10151471565185802_1069606502_o

Love.

We’ve never had an actual ceremony in front of people.  A ceremony the kids and my mom and my brothers and sisters and K’s brother and sister and parents and our friends, etc., etc., could attend.  As a young woman I never thought I’d be able to have a wedding.  It was so far out of the consciousness I literally never even imagined it.  Later, K and I vowed not to do it until/unless it became federally legal.  Our paperwork and our own private marriage were what we’ve had.  And on one hand they’ve been enough.  The hand that says we don’t need anyone telling us our relationship is valid and important and real.  We know it is.  We live it and feel it every day.  On the other hand not being able to legally wed has denied us many rights other couples who can get married enjoy and take for granted every day.  Some of those rights legal, like getting the same rights for the taxes we pay, and some human, like being recognized in the same way as all other couples who love each other and last are when they are married.

And again, I’m not trying to convince anyone of anything here.  I’m just speaking to my own personal experience.  Yesterday, when marriage happened for us in Illinois, I cried.  I cried because it’s another step toward being culturally real.  Toward begin a part of something bigger than just us.  It’s being looked at, from the outside, as legit and meaningful in the same ways as other couples who are devoted to each other, who have taken that step.  It means my mom can be at my wedding, the kids can be there, our family and friends can be there.  It means we can celebrate and rejoice and affirm the love we have and have had for each other for over 10 years and our families and friends can hug us and share in that moment.  I means all the same protections and privileges will then apply to us.  It means inclusion, not exclusion.  And it means so much more than I can even put into words.  Which, as I said in the beginning of this, sometimes fail me.

Love.

There is nothing more important in this life than the people we love and who love us.  Period, the end.  Love is beautiful and special and precious and real.  Man, woman, gay or straight.  Ours is.  Our love for each other and our love for the people in our lives.  This latest happening in Illinois is a victory for love.  It’s very existence has advanced us, as a species.  It’s propelled us a bit closer toward a place and time when all people will be loved and accepted and celebrated for who they are.  A time and a place that’s hopefully not too far off in the future.  Love always wins.  Eventually.  Love of our spouses, our children, our families, our friends, our fellow man and woman.  I believe this.

I believe in love.

Place of Personality

Here it is folks, what you’ve been waiting for….

There’s now a personality test that will tell you if you live where you should.  Apparently I should be residing in D.C.  Open, yet not agreeable.  That made me laugh.  You?

http://science.time.com/2013/10/22/the-united-states-of-attitude-an-interactive-guide-to-americas-moods/

0cf27165623a05194a3e426431035c435

The Science of Happiness

I get feeds.  You know, tidbits of info from various sources bringing in all type and manner of information.  I subscribe to some.  One, Upworthy, comes across on my Facebook news feed.  I like this one in particular because the stuff is usually interesting, informative, and many times it’s positive.  There’s loads of negative emotion, news, “stuff” out there these days and my opinion is that anything positive and uplifting is a very good thing.  The whole good-things-out-into-the-universe-is-important perspective.  Positive vibrations and all that.  It’s not solely that, but much of the time it is that.

Without going into it too much, I particularly loved this one.  It made me tear up, which if you know me doesn’t take much sometimes, but seriously… this is good.  Plus the group who made it is called Soul Pancake.  C’mon… that rocks.

Watch this, and get happy….

 

A Win For Love

Today the Supreme Court ruled DOMA, the Defense of Marriage Act, is unconstitutional.  Love wins.

The liberty protected by the Fifth Amendment’s Due Process Clause contains within it the prohibition against denying to any person the equal protection of the laws. [...] While the Fifth Amendment itself withdraws from Government the power to degrade or demean in the way this law does, the equal protection guarantee of the Fourteenth Amendment makes that Fifth Amendment right all the more specific and all the better understood and preserved.

The class to which DOMA directs its restrictions and restraints are those persons who are joined in same-sex marriages made lawful by the State. DOMA singles out a class of persons deemed by a State entitled to recognition and protection to enhance their own liberty. It imposes a disability on the class by refusing to acknowledge a status the State finds to be dignified and proper. DOMA instructs all federal officials, and indeed all persons with whom same-sex couples interact, including their own children, that their marriage is less worthy than the marriages of others. The federal statute is invalid, for no legitimate purpose overcomes the purpose and effect to disparage and to injure those whom the State, by its marriage laws, sought to protect in personhood and dignity. By seeking to displace this protection and treating those persons as living in marriages less respected than others, the federal statute is in violation of the Fifth Amendment.  ~ Justice Kennedy, writing for the majority

 

And Above All Things… Kindness

I’ve written many times about how I feel we should look at all sides, find common ground, talk over places we disagree with compassion and a willingness to hear. I’ve also written a lot about being open, non-judgemental, and how we are all, most of us anyway, pretty much the same, wanting the same basic things out of life. I believe all of it.

What I believe as well, more than anything else, is that we should all be kind to each other. We should talk from a place of kindness, act from a place of kindness, and think about the world and our fellow men and women from a place of kindness. This is not to say that we should all just get along and there will never be discord. Of course there will be, and is. It’s just that as we disagree we should do it with kindness. No name calling, no finger pointing, no bending of facts or twisting of ideals.

I was reading an article today on CNN.com, the subject of which I won’t talk about as it’s really not relevant to what I’m trying to say here, and then I looked at the comments. Needless to say it was the same ol’ same ol’. And people, listen when I say this, it came from both sides of the argument. As I’ve said, I’m liberal, but I get just as disgusted with the liberal rhetoric, hype, and nastiness, as I do the conservative comments in kind. What good does it do to point fingers, call names, make statements with no support or basis in fact, and generally act like an ass? We get nowhere doing this. Let me repeat… NOWHERE. We have to be better than this, people. We have to rise above our petty differences and playground tactics so we can have meaningful conversations. That is unless we feel we already have all the answers, know everything, and can learn nothing from each other. Arrogant much?

The key to acting with compassion is kindness. Kindness to ourselves, our neighbors, our loved ones, and yes… even toward people we feel might be our adversaries. I will listen to your reasoning, your opinion, your ideas, much more willingly if you don’t call me a name, make fun of what I believe in, and presume to know me. I don’t know you and therefore should do the same. Other than to say, once again, I really feel we are all after pretty much the same things in life… a good life well lived with people we love.

In an effort to look into kindness, do a bit of research you might say, I stumbled upon the seven virtues. The antithesis of the seven deadly sins, these are the seven ideals, the seven character traits, we should all strive to achieve. I actually read them through, not skimming but reading, which made me realize the deeper meaning behind them instead of the sort of one word definitions that are so often assigned to them. Chastity is a great example of this. People always think of chastity as the no sex virtue. Yes, there is a part of the definition that says save yourself based on your current status, but there’s so much more to it than that. In finding the seven virtues I was fascinated… I’d read them before, long ago, but reading them again, with older and hopefully wiser eyes, I found myself agreeing with them in basic principal, as I interpreted them. Key point here is how I interpreted them. We, each of us, take things in through the filter of our own perception. It cannot be helped. So I read these virtues and this is what I understood them to mean, for myself, and for the larger world. I took the original definitions directly from Wikipedia so take that for what you will. I’ve left in the gloss (the four highlighted words directly after the virtue that represent a brief marginal notation of the meaning of a word or wording in a text) and after that the sections of the definitions I felt summed up the essence of each virtue. I tried to do this paraphrasing elegantly so the basic premises of the virtues shown through. And away we go….

Chastity: Purity, knowledge, honesty, wisdom. To be honest with oneself, one’s family, one’s friends, and to all of humanity. Embracing of moral wholesomeness and achieving purity of thought-through education and betterment. The ability to refrain from being distracted and influenced by hostility, temptation or corruption.

Temperance: Self control, justice, honour, abstention. Restraint, temperance, justice. Constant mindfulness of others and one’s surroundings; practicing self-control, abstention, moderation, zero-sum and deferred gratification. Prudence to judge between actions with regard to appropriate actions at a given time. Proper moderation between self-interest, versus public-interest, and against the rights and needs of others.

Charity: Will, benevolence, generosity, sacrifice. Generosity, charity, self-sacrifice; the term should not be confused with the more restricted modern use of the word charity to mean benevolent giving. Charity—or love (agäpé) — is the greatest of the three theological virtues. Love, in the sense of an unlimited loving kindness towards all others, is held to be the ultimate perfection of the human spirit, because it is said to both glorify and reflect the nature of God. Such love is self-sacrificial. Confusion can arise from the multiple meanings of the English word “love”. The love that is “caritas” is distinguished by its origin – being divinely infused into the soul – and by its residing in the will rather than emotions, regardless of what emotions it stirs up.

Diligence: Persistence, effort, ethics, rectitude. A zealous and careful nature in one’s actions and work; decisive work ethic, steadfastness in belief, fortitude, and the capability of not giving up. Budgeting one’s time; monitoring one’s own activities to guard against laziness. Upholding one’s convictions at all times, especially when no one else is watching (integrity).(The vice “acedia” is more commonly known as “sloth”.)

Patience: Peace, mercy, ahimsa, sufferance. Forbearance and endurance through moderation. Resolving conflicts and injustice peacefully, as opposed to resorting to violence. Accepting the grace to forgive; to show mercy. Creating a sense of peaceful stability and community rather than suffering, hostility, and antagonism.

Kindness: Satisfaction, loyalty, compassion, integrity. Charity, compassion and friendship for its own sake. Empathy and trust without prejudice or resentment. Unselfish love and voluntary kindness without bias or spite. Having positive outlooks and cheerful demeanor; to inspire kindness in others.

Humility: Bravery, modesty, reverence, altruism. Modest behavior, selflessness, and the giving of respect. Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it is thinking of yourself less. It is a spirit of self-examination; charity toward people you disagree with. The courage of the heart necessary to undertake tasks which are difficult, tedious or unglamorous, and to graciously accept the sacrifices involved. Reverence for those who have wisdom and those who selflessly teach in love. Giving credit where credit is due; not unfairly glorifying one’s own self. Being faithful to promises, no matter how big or small they may be. Refraining from despair and the ability to confront fear and uncertainty, or intimidation.

I love the character traits present in these… being unselfish, inspiring kindness in others, loving your fellow human, conviction, honesty, patience, mercy, honor, generosity of spirit, justice, peace, and compassion. Just to name a few. These are the things we should strive for, these are the ways in which we should act in our own lives and toward our fellows. This is how we should live in the larger world.

I read these virtues and thought again, the greatest of these is kindness… it generates all the other traits. If we are kind to ourselves we are better people out in the world. If we are kind to our fellow humans then we spread an energy of joy and understanding versus judgement and antagonism. Kind people act with charity, they act with mercy, they act with love.

I don’t profess to always be the kindest of people. I try, but am honestly not always successful. The hope, my hope, is that I am more kind than not, that I think before I speak and act, and that I am always attempting to be aware of my actions and their impact on the people around me and the world at large. What kind of energy do I, do we, want to put out into the world? There are two options… positive energy, which pushes things in a loving and caring direction, or negative energy, which diminishes and constricts. It’s our choice every day. It’s the choice we make when we interact with the barista at our coffee shop, our partners friends and family, or a homeless person, or someone we are angry with or maybe disagreeing with. It’s a choice people. We need to try and be better.

I say strive for kindness… we would all be better off. The world would be better off. Small acts to large, every act of kindness matters. It matters, and it makes the world a better place.

… stepping down off soap box now…

Our Better Selves

We can be a divisive country.  Throw politics and religion into the mix of any conversation and it’s likely people will not agree on something.  It’s our passion and our conviction that makes us so.

In those moments of disagreement we are also not always our better selves.  We point fingers, call names, and talk way too much about us and them.  It can get ugly.  It can get cruel.

Today, reading and watching some of the coverage of the terrible tornado that struck Moore, Oklahoma I was moved by that amazing other side of our collective personality.  The wondrous awe inspiring side that pushes all divisiveness and disagreement away.  The  side that rises to these terrible occasions.  Because when the going gets tough, as it sadly does from time to time, we as a people rise.  We forget about political and religious differences.  We forget about color and sexual orientation and economic division and we extend our hands, our hearts, and our help to anyone and everyone who needs it.  We become our better selves in times of hardship and tragedy.  We become the people we should strive to be every day.  We become one big human family.

In times like these I’m always so proud of us.  So proud and so moved.

Earth Hour 2013

On March 23 8:30 PM people in cities all over the world will do something as a symbol of hope.  They will turn off their lights in their homes for an hour. Leaders of cities around the world will switch off power to monuments and buildings. Companies will turn off power to entire skyscrapers. Will you?

 

It’s Christmas Time In The City

It’s Christmas Eve and our house is quiet. We just arrived back home after spending the day with the kids and our little gent. Four adults, five dogs, one grandson, and loads of family togetherness. Our now traditional Christmas Eve pierogi and sausage dinner followed by the boys nightly routine and bedtime followed by the four of us loading all the presents under the tree. Sebastian will be so excited. It will be awesome to see him lay eyes for the first time on the tree and all those gifts.

Later….

It’s Christmas afternoon now. Gifts opened and food cooking. It smells heavenly in here. The little boy had a fantastic time opening gifts today. A tad overwhelming at times and sometimes it was more fun opening than playing with his new stuff, but that will come later. Opening IS half the fun!

It’s been a grand great day so far. A lovely Christmas in Illinois. Family time.

Here’s a wish out to all the people we love that your day has been as good as ours and that your year to come is filled with more love, joy, and happiness than you can take in.

Peace on earth goodwill toward man….

Someday Soon…

Everyone knows how much I love Karen.  At least they should given the fact I plaster it all over Facebook and nearly all of my many blogs.  I do.  I love her.  She is life and breath and hope and happiness and joy and light and peace.  And those things, my friends, do not even begin to encompass what she is to me.  Suffice it to say she is big love.  We have big love.  Still.

Today I read that Prop 8 was ruled unconstitutional.  This is a lovely thing.  Wonderful.  And hopefully it is just the beginning of what will be a wave of equal rights and civil liberties running rampant across this country and throughout the world.  This is my hope.

I know there are some people who believe with everything they are that gay marriage is evil.  But seriously people, what’s it to you?  If you believe in God, and this is the reason for your objection, read scripture and you will find passages saying things like judge lest ye be judged and do unto others and love your fellow man as yourself.  If you believe God won’t approve, then let God decide.  That’s how it’s supposed to work.  You aren’t God.  Just sayin’.

I don’t believe I’m going to be judged.  I believe in love.  I believe in hope and happiness.  I believe my love is no less important than yours.  I believe that if Karen and I were allowed to marry legally this would not undermine what you consider to be traditional marriage. I don’t care who you marry, as long as it doesn’t hurt either party involved, and I expect that I should have the same rights as you.

I’ve found the someone I will spend the rest of my life with.  I’m lucky.  And someday soon I will be able to legally marry her in any and every state in this country.  I believe this to be true.  Today’s ruling gets us back on the right road.  We’re going to get there.  Slowly, maybe, but we will get there.  And when we do Karen and I will stand up in front of friends and family and say I do.  Just like we did privately 8 years ago on that beach in Hawaii.  Someday soon…

To See or Not to See

This is an amazing story about beauty, perception, art, and what we see, or don’t see, as we go about our daily lives. Do you stop and notice, enjoy, live in the moment with something beautiful or do you walk past without a glance, without a thought for what’s happening right in front of you. What would you do?