Gay marriage inspiring me to live a more loving life

Today, I was going to write about the a-maz-ing concert my hubby and I just got back from. I was going to write about the crowd, the dancing and the pure showmanship of it all. And then I got on Facebook. There were hundreds of little red equal signs staring back at me. That’s when I realized my ode to Josh Ritter’s concert would have to wait–I was just too grateful for all the support that love was getting.

Human rights marriage equality sign

Human rights marriage equality sign

As we wait to hear the Supreme Court’s ruling on DOMA and Prop 8, I am grateful for how far we as a nation have come. When I was growing up (and remember, I haven’t even yet had my 10 year high school reunion), kids at my school used “gay” as a synonym for “stupid,” “bad,” “annoying.” My parents never allowed that sort of speech in our house, and would immediately correct my friends if they used the word in a derogatory way. I’m grateful I was raised in home that had no room for hate speech, but I’m even more grateful that an ever-increasing number of other homes are not allowing hate to reside in them. More and more parents are accepting their children for who they are, regardless of gender identification. I’m grateful that total love and equality are becoming the norm rather than the exception.

Most of all, I’m grateful that we recognize we still have a lot to do. Even if the Supreme Court does rule in favor of gay marriage, injustice and bigotry still exist. Hours after I changed my profile picture to the marriage equality sign, a former classmate of mine wrote, “If we start allowing gays to marry, who’s to say we can’t allow polygamy, incest, and bestiality? I mean, it’s all in the name of “love” right?”

To that person, let me say this: My definition of marriage is an equal agreement two people come to in love and respect for one another. In the slippery slope argument of allowing polygamy, incest and bestiality equating to permitting gay marriage, your definition of marriage must be an incredibly unhealthy one. Two men can love each other, treat each other with respect and have an wonderfully happy marriage. A polygamist, on the other hand, tells his wives that, while he may have sex with however many women he chooses to marry, they may only sleep with him. He has the control. He holds the power, thereby negating the equality.

So do all marriages fall into what I’ve described in my definition? I wish they did, but if that were true, domestic abuse wouldn’t be such a prevalent problem in our society. What I can say is that I have seen some beautiful relationships, healthy relationships, between two people of the same sex. And I’m grateful for that, because it gives me hope in marriage as an institution.

So today, I’d like to thank everyone I know who strives to live in love, rather than hate. Whether you’re gay, straight, bisexual, transgender, or still figuring it all out, thank you for choosing to live with respect. You inspire me.

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Help me figure this one out.

A few nights ago I was at my local chapter of Women Who Wine. For those of you unfamiliar with the group, it’s essentially a gathering of philanthropically-minded women who get together once a month to raise awareness of a charity and, naturally, drink wine.

At the end of the evening, after we’ve heard from the charity representative, we go around one by one, introduce ourselves, and answer that night’s question. The prompt that night was, “How do you stay grounded and stop you first world problems from bringing you down?”

In other words, the question was, “How do you stay grateful and keep everything in perspective?” My kind of question.

The responses floored me. Here was a group of doctors, lawyers, professors, and business executives, and each and every one of them said they kept their own problems in perspective by serving others. The doctors fought for their cancer patients. The lawyers did pro bono cases to help a victim of domestic abuse gain custody of her children. The professors mentored promising, but first-generation college students. Even the business executives talked about their roles serving food in the soup kitchen.

These women were not expressing their gratitude for the comforts they had that others did not have. They were expressing their gratitude that they were simply able to offer their skills and talents to help others. Each and every one of them spoke about how lucky they were, not because they had a lot of things, but because they could share those things.

The distinction holds an amazing secret about what makes us grateful. I’m still trying to put my finger on it, but for now, let me just say I am grateful to be part of such an inspiring community.

Stepping across the line

So yesterday’s gratitude challenge was to set sail from our comfort zones and in doing so, find a new source of gratitude. Let’s be frank: I hate leaving my comfort zone. When I do so, I suddenly become prone to nervous blushing, hand-wringing and playing distractedly with my hair.

When I sat down today in a room full of homeless people, I am embarrassed to say I experienced all of the above. The worst part of it is that I am a bleeding heart, help-everyone-I-can type of person. Yet I pretend to help from afar, rather than actually interact with those in need of my help. This is probably why I’m a fundraiser. I want to do my part, but I don’t want to get my hands dirty.

But today, I dove in. I spoke with these amazingly resilient people about their housing needs, the lack of mental health care available to them, and how we can make sure everyone has access to the food bank. Was I out of my comfort zone? Absolutely. Did I leave with a newfound sense of gratitude? You bet.

It wasn’t the superior breed of gratitude that I think is far too common. Not the “I’m grateful because I have more than they do” type. It was genuine thankfulness for getting to have real conversations with incredibly interesting people who have experienced challenges I will most likely never face myself, and therefore never learn from without their help. I felt not only gratitude, but privilege.

So many of us stay in our comfort zones. We walk the dog in our own neighborhood; we socialize with coworkers; we even read the books our book club decides on. But what happens when we step out of our little bubble? We realize everything we’re grateful for is only the tip of the iceberg. It’s just a hint of what else we can find out there.

Good luck with this week’s gratitude challenge, and I hope you feel as empowered as I did today!

48 hours of being grateful for gratitude

Oh-no-I-haven’t-written-in-two-days-and-I’m-so-sorry-and– Wait a minute. No I’m not.

How many of us have written this exact start to a post, only to realize that little break did a lot to refresh their writing and content? So today I’ll apologize for needing that break, for not being superhuman, because I really, really wish I were superhuman. What I won’t apologize for was taking that break, even though it did mean I missed engaging with my blogging community.

So what did I do in those two MIA days? I celebrated a coworker’s wedding, went out with friends, worked (a lot), and spent time with my parents and husband. These are all things to be grateful for, no question. Yet what I felt most grateful for during those 48 hours was the chance to approach life from a different perspective.

I’ve been in the gratitude mindset for over a month now, and believe me, it is an amazing mindset to be in. However, it’s pulled me away from my creativity mindset, my career mindset, and even my family mindset. Over the past two days I allowed myself to just be grateful. Gratitude was no longer an angle for a post, it just was

Tomorrow I’ll be back at my gratitude treasure hunt, but today, today I’ll just be grateful that I can feel gratitude.

Making up for lost time

My family received long-awaited news this afternoon: after months of prodding, my aging grandparents have finally decided to move to Montana. My grandfather is suffering from Alzheimer’s and my grandmother is nearly blind–not a good combination. So my initial reaction upon hearing the news was relief and a sense of victory. What can I say? I can turn anything into a competition, even the town in which my grandparents live.

And then I realized that their move here would bring more than just peace of mind knowing they were being cared for. It would also result in three generations of my family living in the same town, something that hasn’t happened in precisely two decades.

We moved to Idaho from Arizona when I was seven years old. My dad’s parents spent every summer with us in Idaho, so I’ve remained very close to them. I know all their stories about growing up, and could always count on my Nana to make me a coconut cream pie whenever I had a craving. My mom’s parents rarely came to visit, on the other hand. Not because they didn’t want to, they just weren’t in the same financial situation that allowed my paternal grandparents to travel so much. So we would see them once a year when we made the drive or flight to southern Arizona for spring break. Over the years, and as I grew up, I visited less and less frequently. A long weekend every two years or so. 

But in just a few short weeks, all that will change. I’ll get the opportunity to make up for lost time with them. I can’t wait to sit down with my grandmother and hear how she and her sisters would sneak out to go dancing. I can’t wait to hear my grandfather’s stories about being in WWII. 

I’m grateful for the chance to know my own history a little better, and grateful that I’ll get to make up for lost time.

Let’s act out

This evening I attended an awards ceremony for the local chapter of Business Professional Women (BPW), a women’s group (obviously) that focuses on various political, social and professional efforts in our community. The main part of the event was a “speak off” between the two finalists for the Young Careerist award.

The first got up and gave a very solid speech on how BPW has helped her grow as a person, both professionally and outside of work. Everyone cheered, and, quite honestly, I thought she would be the winner.

And then the second speaker took her turn. She talked about how, as the owner of her own small business, she had made a conscious decision to bring politics into her photography company. Her reasoning was simple: “There are so many politically-minded women and men out there whose employers strongly discourage any sort of activism, one way or another. I’m one of the lucky few who can say, ‘This is my business, my politics.’ I can have a voice.”

And she does. She absolutely does. Much of her photography revolves around those money makers–weddings, family portraits, senior pictures. But she makes a point to use her artistic abilities to lobby for what she believes in: marriage equality, a woman’s right to choose, and the fight for equal pay.

Listening to her speak, I felt myself nodding in agreement, not only with her values, but with her fortitude. She is an incredibly strong young woman. Looking around the room, I saw dozens more just like her. Me, I tend to be on the quiet side of the activism spectrum, though my beliefs are unwavering. I prefer to float along and keep everyone happy and at peace.

But tonight was different. Tonight I was grateful to be influenced by these amazingly unyielding, positively forceful women. To all you strong ladies out there, I’m taking notes.

Running to the pub

This St. Patrick’s Day, my town wore green, dressed up like leprechauns, drank Guinness, and… ran a half marathon. 

I cheered them on. There is no way anyone can convince me to run a race, especially anything over a 5K. So I filled up water cups, clapped, rang cowbells, and hollered encouragement to these thousands of runners who had committed their St. Patrick’s Day morning to running 13.1 miles to raise money for our local homeless shelter.

After my volunteer shift was over, I headed downtown to the finish line. Dozens of my friends were down there, and we all enjoyed a pint together while we waited to hear the winners announced.

Halfway through my Guinness came my gratitude source for today. The race director called up his fiancee, who just so happens to be the volunteer coordinator of the homeless shelter that was the race’s beneficiary. In years past, the race had raised one or two thousand dollars for local non-profits. However, the race was recently listed in Runner’s World magazine, causing interest (and therefore race registrations) to spike. 

“I’ve got a check here for this great local charity,” the race director said, reaching behind him for an oversized foam check. “Looks like you all stepped up this year, because it’s for ten grand.”

His fiancee burst into tears, happy, happy tears for everything that money could do for the homeless families her organization serves in our town. The crowd went wild, and at least half of us had happy tears swimming in our eyes as well.

So I’m grateful for Guinness and whiskey, sure. But I’m even more grateful to be part of a community that will run tens of thousands of combined miles to make sure everyone has a home.

Liebster Award Nomination

liebster-award

Wow! This is so exciting! I don’t have to look too far for a reason for gratitude today: it’s for all my readers who think I’m worthy of such awards, like Boarding Pass.

“Liebster” is German for “dearest”, and the awards are a fun way for bloggers to help each other out by cross-promotion.  Having just finished my first month of blogging, I’m thrilled to participate.

Here’s how it works:

1. Thank the Liebster Blog presenter who nominated you and link back to their blog.  Thanks, Boarding Pass

2. Post 11 facts about yourself, answer the 11 questions you were asked and create 11 questions for your nominees.  See below.

3. Nominate 11 blogs of 200 followers or less who you feel deserve to be noticed and leave a comment on their blog letting them know they have been chosen.  See below.

4. Display the Liebster Award logo.  See above.

Here we go!

11 RANDOM FACTS ABOUT MYSELF

1. I named my first cat Queen Priscilla Elizabeth. Then we took it to the vet and found out it was a male.

2. My senior year of college I decided to take 21 upper division credits. I think all the Red Bull I drank nearly killed me.

3. I decided I would move to Montana when I was 12 years old, came here for a wedding, and fell in love with the mountains.

4. Cheesecake. I will do anything for it.

5. I used to say I hated poetry. Well, that’s changed (see last three posts).

6. I also used to say I hated coffee. Again, see previous posts.

7. Pure Barre is my most recent obsession.

8. When I lived in Spain, I used to try to convince Spaniards that I was from Russia, France, anywhere that wasn’t English speaking. One time I convinced a guy I was French, and he began speaking French to me. I only answered, “Oui, oui,” to everything, as that’s the extent of my French language skills.

9. I usually spend an entire year planning a trip, because I love the anticipation so much.

10. My husband and I recently bought a Toyota Tundra, which makes me feel guilty due to its gas-guzzling nature, but I secretly love how giant it is.

11. I treat my dog, Bailey, as though he were my child. He gets stockings from Santa at Christmas, gets put in time-out if he’s naughty, and is regularly puppy sat by my mom.

11 QUESTIONS FROM BOARDING PASS

1. What’s your favorite thing about your hometown or where you currently live?

My favorite thing about my hometown is how unpretentious it is. Social status means zip there.

2. If you had to pick your last meal, what would it include?

It would include cheesecake (see above), chicken parmigiana, Caesar salad, sourdough bread, and a delicious pinot noir. Then I would probably just go into a food coma if I managed to eat all of that.

3. What’s the one item you can’t live without while on vacation?

Tough one! Hiking shoes.

4. Do you have a funny or embarrassing travel story when something didn’t go according to plans?

Oh I’m sure I do. Let me think on this one… When my parents were visiting me in Spain, we went to Sevilla where they speak a very hard to understand dialect. As my parents speak very little Spanish, I took the lead in making all our travel arrangements. However, when we got to the train station, the man could have been speaking Greek for all I could understand him. So I said (in Spanish), “Okay, great thanks, yeah, bye.” My dad looked at me and said, “So we’re all set?” I replied, “Let’s see if we can get tickets online.”

5. What’s your favorite movie?

Love Actually, hands down.

6. Do you prefer the window, aisle or center seat on an airplane?

Window seat, please!

7. What one famous person, living or deceased, would you like to have dinner with?

Seamus Heaney

8. How do you take your coffee?

In the form of an 8oz double shot latte.

9. What’s your favorite site, monument or place you’ve ever visited?

Ireland. All of it.

10. If you could teleport to any place in any era, where and when would it be?

The Elizabethan era in England. I would have loved to watch a Shakespeare play with, well, Shakespeare.

11. What’s the best travel advice you’ve ever gotten or could give someone?

Plan your trip well, but leave room for surprises!

MY 11 QUESTIONS

 1. At age 8, what did you want to be when you grew up?
2. Are you what you wanted to be at age 8?
3. Favorite piece of art in your home–describe, please!
4. Who or what encouraged you to start blogging?
5. What is the best meal you’ve ever cooked?
6. If someone came up to you tomorrow and said, “Here’s a plane ticket to wherever you want to go for the next month.” where would you go?
7. What is the best poem you’ve ever read?
8. When was the last time you stepped outside your comfort zone, and how did you do so?
9. If you had to live without coffee or wine, which would it be?
10. What is your favorite article of clothing you own, and why?
11. How do you relieve stress?
MY PICKS

Coming full circle, Part III

I stared at him, kneeling in the sand, holding a glittering diamond ring… and started laughing. I’m not talking a giggle. I’m talking a deep-bellied, whole-body-shaking, tears-streaming-down-my-face, LAUGH.

I had to sit down on a piece of driftwood to regain control. A yes squeaked out at some point, because soon he was placing the ring on my finger, causing even more laughter. Forcing myself to take deep breaths, I looked around us. We were sitting on the Flaggy Shore in County Clare, Ireland and it had all come full circle.

It had started with a poem, then took me to independence, and now was giving me the gift of complete and total happiness. This journey had been five years, two trips to Ireland, and countless readings of “Postscript” in the making.

My then-fiance, now-husband chose the Flaggy Shore very carefully as his spot to propose. He knew it was a place I had claimed as my own, but he wanted to share it. Not take it from me, but share it. It was also an important part of his own history, as his ancestors had immigrated to America from County Clare. So he knelt on one knee and endured my guffaws on that little stretch of coastline because he knew that marriage was about two histories coming together to create a new, combined history, a better history.

There have been only a handful of times in my life when I felt the universe was pointing me in one direction. As we walked back along the mostly deserted path, I experienced one of these instances. There was a woman ahead of us, walking a little brown and white dog. “Bingo!” I called. The dog stopped, cocked its head at me and trotted over.

“How did you know his name?” the woman asked.

“I met him a few years ago, when I was here for the first time. We walked together.” I felt tears, happy tears swim in my vision as I watched them walk away. Something about seeing that little dog again, my companion on my first journey to happiness, told me I had just embarked on another.

Every day I am grateful for the poem, the dog, the country, the shoreline, and the love that brought me full circle. And happy St. Patrick’s Day to you all!

Rainbow across the Burren