Be The Love You Want to See in The World

1935760_142466440801_985538_nI’m in a good mood.  And maybe because I’m in a good mood I want everyone to be in a good mood.  Happy speaks to happy, that kind of thing.

I know, I know, there’s a lot of shit going on in the world.  Yes, I said shit, I’m allowed to cuss once in a while.  Sometimes no other word works.  Seriously though, I’m not blind to all the stuff that’s not working.  I know there are things that need fixing.

But….

I think it’s easy to get caught up in what’s wrong.  It’s so easy in fact that we don’t see what’s going right.  What’s good.  The conflict and hate and the things we dislike seem to take our attention.  I’m not sure why that is.  We get critical of, and complain about a myriad of things – family members and politicians and news programs and celebrities and an endless litany of stuff.  The onslaught leaves us in a state of anxiety, anger, and helplessness.  Is there another way?

Sometimes, I think it’s just a matter of perspective.  Sometimes, all it takes is a moment, a little shift.  Close your eyes, take a deep breath, and open them again.  Look at the sky and the light and the faces of the people you love.  Put on a great album and hear the notes, the arrangement, the groove of the vocals.  Read a book and appreciate the beauty of the words.  Listen to the laughter of your children or grandchildren or your spouse.  Play with your pups or cats or rabbits or lizards and notice how much they love you.  Seek out positivity in your news, see what good is being done out in the world, there’s so much of it.  Notice kindnesses and smiles and the friendliness of your neighbors.  Watch sunsets and look with wonder at the amazing things we can build when we dream.  See the world with different eyes, a different heart, and it will be different.    It can be.  Even if we only manage to do it for a moment or a day.  String those moments to hours and those days to weeks. If we notice the kindnesses in the world, maybe we’ll act with more kindness.  Be the love you want to see in the world.

I’m in a good mood today and I want everyone to be in a good mood.

This is What Marriage Looks Like

20140602-125937-46777141.jpgIt happened.  Wow.

Many of our friends and family members are celebrating right now.  My Mom just sent us a text message expressing her excitement about the decision from SCOTUS today on marriage equality.  To me it’s always a beautiful thing when love wins.

For those wondering what gay marriage, which from now on will just be referred to as marriage, looks like, I wrote this post to fill you in.  First though, some background.  We’ve been married, in one form or another, since 2003, having had our actual marriage ceremony (the non-legal one) on the beach in Maui, then a few years later we got our legal domestic partnership in Oregon (I think it was 2007), and finally we were legally married in Illinois last year.  We’ve never had to have the paperwork to tell us who we are or to define our relationship.  We’ve always known.  And in fact we’ve only actually had one ceremony, that day on the beach in Maui, just the two of us, all those years ago.  The rest of it, for us, has just been about getting the paperwork, making it legal.  And being legal matters because we wanted the same privileges when it comes to protections for each other, rights to be enjoyed, etc.  We celebrated each time we took a step in that direction, each time we were afforded another set of rights, protections, and privileges.  And we are celebrating again today, because now so many of our friends can, if they choose to, make that same legal commitment to each other.  It’s a beautiful moment.

But what does “gay” marriage look like you ask?  What exactly is “gay” marriage?

Every day we get up when the alarm goes off.  We grumble a little, sometimes just laying there, petting the dogs, wishing it was a no alarm day.  But it is, so we get up.  We open the doggie door and put the water on for coffee.  Coffee is essential.  If there are dishes in the sink from the night before they get loaded into the dishwasher.  The dogs get breakfast.  My honey fires up her work computer in the office and gets to the task of ruling the world from her pajamas.  I pay some bills and get an appointment made to get our Jeep serviced.  Breakfast of some sort gets made.  The morning goes on, turning into afternoon.  Sometimes I run errands, we may get a visit from the grand kids, we take the dogs for a walk.  In the spring and summer we find time to pull weeds in the garden, dead head some flowers, fill the bird feeders.  We say hello to our mail lady and sometimes have a friendly chat with our neighbors as on both sides of the fence the barbecues get fired up to make dinner.   We laugh together.  We talk about our upcoming vacation and get excited about the places we’re going and the beauty we hope to see there.  We talk about the news and the grandkids and our parents.  My honey’s birthday is coming up and I’m excited about the present I got for her this year.  She’s hard to buy for, but I think I did it right this time.  I hope so.  We make dinner, barbecuing some steaks, steaming some vegetables, and feed the dogs their dinner.  They are, as always, excited about getting fed.  We head down to the family room where we sit in our recliners, which are side by side, and watch whatever shows we happened to have recorded.  I’m a huge fan of the tiny house shows at the moment so we usually watch one of them.  My honey enjoys them too, but mostly I think she watches them because I love them.  That’s how we are.  We hold hands and pet the dogs who seem to always find their way onto our laps.  We chat, we make each other laugh.  Every day it seems we have to take turns emptying the dehumidifier which always seems to be full this time of year.  My honey heads up to the kitchen and comes back down with some small sweet dessert.  I throw in a load of laundry.  We finish up our evening, wander back upstairs, do the dishes so they won’t be in the sink the next morning, make sure the dogs go out and then shut the doggie door.  We turn off the lights, brush our teeth, and make our way back into bed.  We flip on the tv for a little bit, the dogs snuggle in with us, we watch, we chat, we laugh, we say I love you, and then we shut off the tv and go to sleep.  Tomorrow we’ll do it again.  And the next day.  And the day after that.  It’s our life.  Our beautiful, wonderful, regular life.

This is what marriage looks like.

On Saying Goodbye

IMG_1785M, my friend, I love to you.  I know your heart is breaking as you get ready to start your journey.  This trip, in one sense, signifies an ending, but I know in my heart it will also end up being a celebration of a life well lived.

I believe the people we love never truly leave us.  She lives in your heart, she lives inside of you. Her spirit is with you…

She’s there in the sound of footsteps and the rain falling on roofs and the feel of the wind on your cheek. In the rushing of the waves and the ceaseless movement of the tides. In small kisses and the purring of a furry friend and when you are wrapped up in a warm hug. In the emotions brought on by the pages of a good book and in the beats of great songs. In hope and joy and laughter and in the sunlight through the trees. Inside deep conversations and thoughts of love. During moments of celebration and sadness.  In the quiet space on either side of a breath. In the flapping of birds wings overhead and in the lightly falling snow. In the moonlight, the moving of the planets, the rushing of the blood inside of you. She resides there. In all those moments. In so many moments. Strong, eternal, full of grace, and overflowing with love.

Love surrounds you my friend, as it surrounded and surrounds your Mom as she steps to the next place on this amazing cosmic adventure.

Extra-Ordinary

cropped-10606338_10152718999440802_7621001213431286246_n.jpgStomps foot down and says in a huff, I was meant for more than this, I was meant for great things.

I didn’t really throw a tantrum, though it sort of felt like one in my head, mental foot stomping and all.  Sometimes our better selves appear to the world, but not always so much inside our own minds.

I’ve always had this idea, as many of us have I imagine, that I was meant for great things.  That I was meant to do something extraordinary, something beyond the usual, past the normal, over and above the every day.  I can’t really remember a time I didn’t feel this way.  And the feeling of it, the haunting thoughts that come with that feeling, are sometimes sort of depressing.  After all, I haven’t really achieved anything big.  Big in the I’ve written the great american novel and it became hugely successful kind of way.  So to have this feeling with me that I haven’t yet done “the thing”, whatever that might look like, can be a downer. You know, not having fulfilled my greater potential and all.

I’ve lived, to this point, an ordinary life.

And yet…

I say that, and then the next thought is… yeah, but… wait.  Think of this life I have, this life I’ve lived and am living.  Think of the wonder of it.

Think.

It occurred to me the other day, driving down the freeway toward Chicago with the radio blasting my current favorite playlist, that I’ve always had this feeling.  This feeling of not achieving.  I’ve had it, and never named it, never spoken it aloud, or even mentioned it quietly to myself.  Never the less, it’s always been there, taunting me, haunting me, and pressuring me since forever.  The next thought that day was that I’ll be turning 50 on my next birthday.  The big 5-0.  Surprisingly I realized I wasn’t dreading it.  In fact, I’m sort of excited to be entering the next decade of my life.  I think good things are ahead.

But, back to the deep thoughts I was having that day in the car.  All of this was passing through my mind, my strange expectation for extraordinary, my approaching milestone of a birthday, what my life has been and is, and then it hit me, the most simple of ideas.  The purest of truths.  My life is amazing.  My life is phenomenal.

When I looked on my life, the ins and outs of it, the ups and downs, I realized something wonderful.  I already have an extraordinary life.  My every day is impeccable.  My place in the world is secure, my mark on the world happening every day.  If I honestly look at myself I realize I’m a good person.  I treat people well, I’m there for people when they need me, I look at things with a bend toward the positive instead of the negative, I love nature and my fellow humans despite all of their flaws and sometimes because of them, and I truly believe we can all rise up to be our better selves if given the opportunity and sometimes a little help.  I’m a good sister, a good daughter, a good friend, and a pretty good partner.  I tend to think the best of people, want the most for people, care deeply about what happens to my fellow creatures great and small, I recycle, I dance in the kitchen, and I feel a deep sense of wonder and awe about the world around me.  I also realized in that moment that my life has been a wonder so far.  The people I’ve known and know, the places I’ve been lucky enough to see, the experiences I’ve had in small ways and big.  It was incredible.  An enlightening realization.  I have and am everything I need.  My life is already extraordinary.

Wow.

Sometimes small moments, little thoughts, turn into huge discoveries.  One minute you’re just driving down the freeway listening to music on a sunny day and the next you are shifting how you feel about yourself and your world.

I’ve spent most of my life to this point thinking there was more, should be more, was supposed to be more.  That I was somehow not all I could be or should be or might be.  And that feeling, as I said before, haunted me.  It informed decisions, lent itself to indecision, and pushed me in all sorts of directions at once, while keeping me stuck where I was more often than not.  All of it inside, occasionally making me feel incomplete.

My realization, my revelation, is that I am all I was ever intended to be.  The rest, it’s unimportant. I know now that by being who I am, just me, I have changed people’s lives.  I had jobs where that was a literal thing, and yet somehow I always devalued it, until now.  I also know that I have had a decent impact on the people in my life, hopefully a good one.  Not just those I have known and still know, but on those I once knew, and don’t know anymore, and on those I will know.  I feel this certainty now as much as I felt the lack of it before.  I know this because I know how much the people in my life have had an effect on me.  I know this because it is.  And that is extraordinary.

My life has to this point been a series of wonder-filled moments.  Incredible moments.  I recognized some of them as they happened, more so when I looked back on them, but to now feel this sense of accomplishment for just being who I am, for just living the life I am, for just touching the lives of the people I have, it’s ground breaking to me.

This life, my life, is far from ordinary.  My life, every moment of it, has been and is extra-ordinary.  Light and love filled, even in it’s darkest moments.  To know this, to feel it now, to see it for what it actually has been and is…. it’s joyous.

Rumination on Hate

10560688744_f669afe803_b.jpgMerriam Webster defines hate as, “a deep and emotional extreme dislike for someone or something”.  You might find it strange that a person who tends to write about kindness and joy and love would start a piece with hate’s definition, but today I was watching something, a story on the program Sunday Morning that I’d recorded, and it reminded me why I think kindness and joy and love are so important.  They are the opposite of hating and divisiveness.

The story I was watching was pretty benign, about a photographer who takes photos of lookalikes.  You’ve probably seen it going around Facebook, stories about this photographer and his project.  Today the story itself wasn’t the thing, what struck me most was the part about how the country of Colombia had commissioned this photographer’s work as part of an exhibit putting forward the idea of sameness and likeness, instead of difference.  The message they wanted most to convey was that we are more alike than we are dissimilar.  It’s an idea close to my heart.  This idea of sameness and likeness.

We tend to be afraid, apprehensive, and suspicious, of things and people unfamiliar to us.  It’s a natural reaction, or seems to be anyway, for us to pull back, be cautious, to see what’s different about a person instead of what might be the same.  It’s natural, yes, but it also creates barriers, divisions, and sometimes conflict.  Before really getting to know a person or a place we often begin to think the differences make them better than, or worse than, ourselves.  We categorize.  We judge.  We assume.  And sometimes, we hate.

I’ve felt this judgment in myself, and it shames me.  Yes, it’s natural, to be cautious of difference, but it can also be a band-aid for our wounded hearts and souls.  Our feelings of superiority over some people allow us to feel better about ourselves, helping us to feel so much smarter or aware, and ultimately, somehow, so much better than “those” people.  Our feelings of inferiority allow us to justify our anger about our circumstance and our feeling that that circumstance is somehow the fault of “those” people, somehow their responsibility.  I’m guilty of both.  So are you.

Now that I have grandchildren I think about the future, I think about the people they will become.  I want them to appreciate and celebrate the differences in people, in cultures, in themselves.  I hope they will grow up to a world that’s matured.  I hope they live among people who show kindness and live joyously.  I hope they find people who strive for understanding and live with love.  I hope they are those people.

It’s easy to get cynical when you watch the news and don’t agree with what you see, what you hear, but I still believe in the human heart, the human spirit.  I believe, seriously, that most people can be kind.  I believe most people prefer love over hate.  I believe we are more alike than we are not.  I believe most of us want the same things: to be loved, to love, to have a place we love to call home, to have friends and community, to not stress about money, to have good health and for our loved ones to have good health, to be safe, to be happy.  We all want these things.  So do our neighbors and the people we don’t agree with, and so do “those” people, whoever they are.

We are more alike than we are not.  And love, if we let it, will always win over hate.

Live… 

Live, travel, adventure, bless, and don’t be sorry.     –Jack Kerouac



Weston

Today is our little mister’s 8th birthday.  Currently he’s curled up in the chair in the corner of our living room sleeping.  He’s as cute as he’s ever been.  I love him so.

Our boy has brought so much joy, love, happiness, and adventure into our lives.  He is very affectionate, mischievous, hellaciously smart, loving, loyal, protective, playful, and insistent.  I say insistent because he pretty much demands attention when he wants it.  Pet me, play with me, feed me, pet me, give me love, I love you, I love you, I love you, love me, pet me now.  He has his annoying habits, of course, like stealing things.  We have to be pretty vigilant about kleenex and food and items on our metro shelf he thinks he might want to eat.  He steals from the shred bin in K’s office, off of tables, from inside backpacks he’s managed to unzip (an incident that led to a call to doggie poison control and a force feeding of hydrogen peroxide, which worked by the way).  He’s ingenious, and that ingenuity can be frustrating, but it’s also admirable.  He doesn’t give up.  I think he does it sometimes just to see if he can.  He’s tenacious.

Our little man can also be testy and nippy and down right semi-ferocious if the right opportunity presents itself.  Like when he steals something really good then hunkers down, dens, to protect it.  It’s not a time to reach in and try to get whatever it is from him.  We’ve all been gnashed at and nipped, we’ve all been trained to know he means business.  He can’t help it, he’s been this way since we brought him home all those years ago.  We think it’s because we got him so young, and that he didn’t have as much training from his mama as he should have, which may or may not be the reason.  It doesn’t really matter, it’s his way, his personality, and we know it.  We’ve always said he’s Doctor Jekyl and Mr. Hyde.  Most of the time he’s the most loving, affectionate, cuddly dog you’ve ever met.  He’s happiest getting pets and giving kisses.  He wants to be touched all the time.  This can also be annoying, but how can you resist that face?  We can’t.  We love him.  And I love that about him.  When Mr. Hyde comes out, well… we know that guy too.  The one you don’t want to challenge.  When he has something he’s protecting, or he doesn’t want to be picked up in a certain way, it’s best to leave him be.  He lets you know that.  You always know where you stand with him, and what he wants.  He’s a passionate guy.

He’s been with us all but the first six weeks of his eight years.  During that time he’s traveled with us on many of our adventures: enjoying romps in the sand and sun; games of fetch in creeks and streams; walks in so many different places on so many different paths; travels in the car; sleeps in tents and trailers and hotel rooms; playing chuck-it in fields and parks; and playing ball inside of hotel rooms and the houses of family and friends.  He’s an excellent travel companion, a great little traveler.  We say this about he and Riley every time we hit the road.

What can I say, we love him.  I love him.  I can’t believe, and I say this all the time about him, about both of our pups actually, how much I do love him.  Life is so much richer with him in our lives.  So much more joyous.  There’s so much more laughter, love, fun, and cuddling because of him.  I am constantly amazed by how much I do love him.  What’s great is that he loves me, he loves us, right back.

Happy birthday to our beautiful, wonderful, fascinating, little mister.  Life with him is truly sweet.

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