Archive | March 2014

I Hope the Trail is Visible in My Children’s Eyes

Learning Through Teaching

I had a bout of insomnia lastnight while I was thinking about something our pastor said during the sermon yesterday~ “Those who seem to know the most, can see the least.” I have been teaching a class at church on how to be an active ally. Last Thursday I invited our pastor to speak on defending yourself in a scripture battle. He spoke on six scriptures commonly used when people degrade homosexuality. I often think of Luke 6:31- Do unto others as you would have done unto you. One such person that was using one of the six scriptures in a discussion against homosexuality said to me, “I tell homosexuals that they are wrong and that they are sinners, because if I was doing something so devious against human nature that is listed as an abomination in the Bible I would want someone to treat me the same as I am treating homosexuals.” This person wont even speak of my church or humor speaking with my pastor. She seeks no understanding of homosexuals. She said, “I am loving my neighbors as Jesus asked us to do. I am loving them by showing them what the Bible says about homosexuality and they are wrong. I am loving them by treating them as abominations. In today’s society I can’t stone them to death, but I can banish them from my life.” 

Those who seem to know the most, can see the least

~ likely caused by a large thorn in their eye~

There was a beautiful picture of a gay couple embracing in my facebook newsfeed yesterday. I realized that none of their family had liked or commented on their photo. It was a breathtaking photo and moving to see their love and embrace captured digitally. It hurt my soul. I have family members part of the LGBT community and I tell you I could never choose to banish them, but for so many people allies like myself are the only family people from the LGBT community actually have. They spend holidays alone and families use themselves as some barter or ultimatum hoping that the person will choose their family over their own sexuality. In the end many persons choose to hide their true selves under a blanket in the eyes of their family and some realize that their sexuality isn’t something they can just keep hidden under a bushel… when you put this ultimatum on the line you will lose your LGBT family member either physically or in the truth of who they are inside. 

Show Your Acceptance Anyway You Can

I was invited to a Thanksgiving party by a gay couple and there were so many people there… I’m thinking close to thirty. My husband and I joked that I was the only female and out of all the people at the party he was the only one that found women sexually attractive. We were expecting something more intimate and were surprised by the intensity of this Thanksgiving feast and we were seated at a small card table with another couple. One person looked at me and said, “Thank you all for being here. You have no idea what it means to us to have you here.” I sort of blew off the comment with soft silliness. He with strong affirmation said, “No, you. have. to. understand. This to many people here… this IS THEIR Thanksgiving. I count myself lucky that my family loves me. I can’t say the same for many other people here. This will be the only hospitality they receive this Thanksgiving.” 

The Trailblazer

Pastor Joe has started calling me The Trailblazer. I’m not the first to travel this path of being a straight ally, but it isn’t traveled enough as a Christian. The weeds and brush are blocking the path and I hope that I am clearing a larger area for likeminded people. In the future I hope to see fewer LGBT friends in isolation on holidays. It seems silly to look at facebook likes, but I can only imagine the power that it must have on ones heart to know that showing their love is okay and not to keep it hidden but to embrace it. 

 

Onward Christian Ally

I stood in front of the congregation yesterday and talked about my class, the first of its kind, with full intention of teaching it again, and again and again until this path I am on is clear of the thorns of judgement that have snagged me on my way. It is unlike me to stand in front of so many, but my passion drives me to do good unto others with love… with love. Christian love is showing hospitality not banishment. I trudge on with the burrs I have gathered off of my pants with the coarse words said against my actions. As ugly as it is a burr does contain a seed… I hope to pull them away from all of their sharpness and plant them. I want to see my hard work grown into a beautiful bloom and in the reflection of my children’s eyes so that they may see the trail clearly and peacefully.

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A Weekend Away- Making that Guys Weekend Actually Happen

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Many of my friends say their husbands gripe every time they leave for the weekend. Ladies get a bad reputation for having their husbands ask if they can leave for the weekend or wanting to know what they are doing. Behind the closed doors though men are griping because they don’t get to get away- Selfishly pouting because they never get to go… but they don’t and wont plan it. I refuse to plan it for John, but if he wants to go he can go on.

We realize that your biggest problem is that you are by nature probably not a planner, but we aren’t planning this one. So here are a few tips from the ladies on planning a guys weekend.

 

1. If you don’t have friends to go with or you wouldn’t even know who to invite- this is not our fault. Ask other men if they would be interested. Work friends- people from church- other dads- your old college roommate- cousins- brothers … seriously you can’t think of anyone? Then communicate! Remember to not invite people that already get on your nerves. Don’t invite too many- 4 to 6 people is a reasonable size.

2. Compare calendars with each other and find dates that work for all of you and give a list to your spouses, be flexible with each other and your spouses. Don’t figure out what you are doing yet- pick the date first the what you are doing can come later.

3. We realize you will probably drink too much and smoke cigars, but no strippers really… don’t do it. Your wife wont like it trust me. So lay that out now before some of the other folks get away and deviate from what you can live with. The ladies also realize that guys weekends have a bad reputation (yeah those friends of friends of yours that say in front of everyone that they will take something to the grave instead of spill the beans on what so-in-so did one weekend and how if his wife finds out it would be bad.) Don’t do anything you wouldn’t share with your spouse- it doesn’t have to be worthy to share with everyone. Your spouse though gets a special pass on this one. It’s probably something like this guy in my example got drunk vomited everywhere and sharted in his pants, but seriously it sounds really bad when you say it like that- you look like asses.

4. Set a budget for yourself so you can say what you can and cannot do. Make sure this is okay with your spouse- this is a fair discussion topic. Be realistic- you have bills to pay. Factor in your budget your own bed- now I say go cheap, but wouldn’t it be awesome if you got to sleep in at least a full sized bed not a cot and not sharing with anyone else? Our house it’s always some kid or some four legged pet annoying the crap out of John to get up and if I were him I’d want to be alone.

5. Come up with a list of things that could work on the established date from all attending. Some people may be too busy to contribute but let them go along for the ride still.  A baseball game? A cabin by a lake? Golfing package? River Tubing? Camping and hiking? Concerts? Does it fit within everyones budget and on that selected weekend? Don’t be so set on exactly what you want to do that you can’t be flexible listening to everyone else’s ideas. This is best communicated through e-mail- send links so everyone knows what you are talking about. The cheaper the better in most cases unless you are going to go cross some major bucket list items off in which case sure take a flight or pay for that instructor fee for TreeTop Canopy tours.

6. Once you have narrowed it down by date, budget, and what you are doing start deciding things like travel- tickets- hotels or other accommodations.

7. Find cool places to eat- drink and play nearby- seriously don’t go to New Orleans and eat at Wendy’s. Not naming any names here, but yes that’s a real example.

8. Thank your spouse repeatedly for how awesome this is and help them prepare in the days leading up to it. Give them a night out before you leave so they don’t feel overwhelmed. Run errands to take the pressure off of them.

9. Go have fun and when you return unpack your suitcase and wash up your dirty laundry funk on your own.

10. Give your wife a turn at getting away and remember not to give each other flack about it. It’s not about being away. It’s about being alone. It’s not selfish to want to be alone. It’s selfish to not return the favor and blow the set budget. It’s not selfish to take care of you from time to time.

I dreaded 33

In retrospect I feel silly, but I really did dread turning 33. I don’t normally dislike birthdays. I was so apprehensive of it and in the end it may go down as one of the best years of my life.

I kept saying there is something about that twin double digit that unnerved me. I’m not dreading 34 at all and I am truthfully looking forward to it. What magically and amazing things it may have in store for me?

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A few weeks before my 33rd birthday.

List of things I enjoyed learning about me during 33 and chronological photos to boot.

1.Healthy friendships- There were a few relationships that were negatively bringing me down. Some of the relationships were so bad that I found I was comfort eating just to be in their presence or when speaking with them. I was able to identify the problem- pinpoint who made me feel that way and now when I encounter such people I have a good control over it. This helped me control anxiety and my weight loss. These were poor relationships that made me question my self worth, my relationship with my husband, and negative energy that I couldn’t sustain anymore.

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2. Started this blog. I don’t get out of the house often and this blog has given me time to talk to those who wanted to listen. It has allowed me to grow in gumption which was the point. Accepting that I am far more introverted than I wanted to admit.

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3. Weight loss- I’m down quite a bit at this point. I started with a low GI diet and hit a wall. Then I tried weight watchers and I had a lot of success with that and then hit a wall. Then I tried just low calorie and again- hit a wall… Then I tried a rotation suggested by my obgyn where I ate 2 or 3 days low carb on my non- running days and then the rest low cal and I couldn’t do that it was too much to juggle. So now I’m doing 5 days low carb 5 days low cal- alcohol only on the weekends. Occasionally I have cheated on this and had a couple of drinks.

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4. Running. This time last year I wasn’t even running yet and now I run all the time. I used to walk with a lot of pain a 28ish minute mile and now I can run 2 miles in 25 and half minutes. It can happen for me it’s just a slow process. I end up at the chiropractor from time to time, but running 11+ miles a week would send many people there not just someone like me. A year ago I couldn’t roll over in the bed or go down the steps first thing in the morning without my hips and SI joints aching in pain. 474986_10151392541921793_182906720_o

5. My hormones are far more balanced than they have been in years previous. Think never been better. I have PCOS- which is a condition that causes your body to hold a lot of fat on the mid-section, lowers your metabolism and can even cause insulin resistance. You can do your own research and I will spare you the details. A person with PCOS has to work a whole lot harder to maintain weight than the average person. It is the condition to which doctors told me at 17 that I would never have children without assistance. I am so grateful for my two beautiful children… more than most of you have any idea.

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6. Surgery- something I have wanted for years finally came through. The relief from the pain I was in is so much better. I have had one day where my shoulders hurt and I took a trip to the chiropractor and that all worked out. I am so excited about shopping for clothes for this spring and summer. No longer will I have to wear a size 18 dress to fit the top when my bottom half is a 12!

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7. I love traveling by train. I love being in company with my husband. Someone said recently that they were surprised in my blog by how much I admire my husband. This just makes me chuckle. Sure he leaves laundry on the floor, he never sets his alarm clock and can’t find a damn thing on his own, but I do adore him. I think he’s pretty flipping awesome.

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8. My children are growing up too fast. My son turns 8 in two weeks. He’s a couple of months shy of being a 3rd grader. I just think of him being the tiniest little fella in my arms and rubbing our noses together. My daughter is 4 and is starting to read. She will go to kindergarten in August. They are in a love hate relationship. Maggie came home in the worst mood yesterday. Griping about anything and everything. I told her, “Maybe you should get away from the other kids and just go snuggle your brother.” She smirked ” NO way! He’s mean.” Five minutes later she’s on the sofa leaning on him under a blanket that they are sharing.

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9. I can surround myself with people I truly enjoy their company. My little village of friends is amazing and supportive. My church family is so wonderful too. I am blessed by the people who want to be an active part of our lives and not just acquaintances.

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10. I know we have a cat and I can “stand” her, but I’m a dog person and there really is no doubt about it now. Old man winter- Luke- is having a rough day today. He doesn’t feel well and he truly has been the best dog ever. He’s deaf now. I have to stomp at the back door so he knows it’s time to come in and he barks at the vibrations of the trains far in the distance. Benson is my running buddy and he’s good on a leash- he will not stay in the yard. His more recent thing isn’t digging or climbing or scooting out a gate. His new thing is to jump on the edge of the kids trampoline and jump over the fence from there.

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11. Music- I got to see the Avett Brothers in June and then Will Hoge again last weekend. I realized that my anxiety and stress went down the more music I listened to every day. It really helped me to have more music in my life.

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Photos a year apart…

Top 25

I’m going to start a list of things I’m looking forward to ending or beginning in the next five months when my business closes. 

1. Insurance changes- homeowners- car- health… all of it will change.

2. 11 hour days five days a week. Teachers work a lot of work hours outside of the regular day I haven’t forgotten that, but my doors open at 7am and close at 6pm every week day. 

3. Being on salary again- time off- sick days- personal days- vacation days

4. More alone time with my kids. 

5. Having the daycare room be an office/workout room. The dining room currently serves as a place for John’s guitars and the office too. The treadmill and weights are in our bedroom. 

6. Kids toys stay upstairs in their room. Because the daycare is downstairs they feel the need to bring their toys down and mix them all in frequently.

7. Bye Bye baby stuff. All the pack-n-plays- single- double- and triple stroller. Oh what a relief to just have less stuff. 

8. Less cupboard- freezer- refrigerator – and dish cabinet space. I may just go out and buy all new dishes at the end of this. I’m so sick of looking at plastic kid crap. 

9. Less cleaning. Table tops. Floors. Bathroom filth. Trash. Diapers- ick. Glass- doors -windows and mirrors… smudge smudge.

10. Dishes… I can not say enough about dishes. The cleaning- the storage- their presence. 

11. Cook for just four people including myself instead of nine people on most days. I would like to enjoy cooking again… for now it is what can I shove together as quickly as possible with as little clean up as possible. 

12. Games- puzzles- toys and unnecessary things that I keep merely because of the business and now because of my own actual children. 

13. Wear real clothes instead of spit-up worthy attire. 

14. Not having to have John cover me for every hair cut, dentist appointment, or voting, but to just schedule them for after school and be on  my way without bothering anyone to help me. 

15. To -in the rare occasion- use a sick day- in which I set up my lesson and call in the sub and take care of myself… instead of shut down at least four families for the day scrambling to figure out what they will do for childcare or their own jobs and after much grief take care of myself. Or better yet not have to have a sub in my home and try resting while children squeal in the other rooms.

16. Taxes… oh my to just file taxes on a much simpler level. This wont happen for another year at this point. 

17. Leave my house. There are days sometimes in a row that I don’t make it past the front step of my own home. 

18. Groceries- to just purchase what milk- juice- toilet paper- paper towels- bread that my own family actually consumes.

19. Water bill- power bill- gas bill—- really what a change when the house doesn’t need to go for so many people all day long. 

20. Kid crap out of our bedroom. 

21. Privacy. Not having my home on display for everyone to see every day. 

22. Not have to shovel snow first thing in the am and put down ice melt before dawn so no one slips and busts their hind parts on my sidewalk. 

23. Not have to send John on every errand for our family but actually be able to do some of them on my own. Stop and grab milk or pick up medicine. 

24. Time for some exercise on my own free to run the neighborhood or a class if I so choose… instead of being here with workout videos and a treadmill. 

25. Time for my house- inside and out. I may be here but it’s impossible for me to wash a car or take down the trash. I wish I just had more time to do simple things like that. 

 

A Do-Over in Making the Mosaic of Me

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every fool has a lesson that’s hard to learn

About 8 years ago my husband and I met Vanessa a coworker of John’s. She introduced us to Will Hoge who is now one of our favorite musicians. The obsession over Will Hoge for John is much like my obsession for the Avett Brothers. We have video of our son just shy of his fourth birthday singing along in the car to Will’s album “The Wreckage”. He refers to Will Hoge as “the beat up old guitar singer”.

Two years ago Will came to town and it was one of the best evenings of my life. He is wonderful recorded, but live is amazingly inspiring and the recordings do not do him justice. For this performance in 2012 we met up with one of my former students Kelsiann. She and I are very similar creatures and found over time that we were watching the same shows and listening to the same music and we have kept in touch. We called and messaged Vanessa during the performance at Kirk Avenue Music Hall too. 

Watching Will live at Kirk Avenue really moved John and I, but a the time I wasn’t moving well. My hormones were such a mess. My weight was a mess. My hips were a mess. I… I was a mess. Will is extremely personable though and stayed after and signed things and took pictures. I loved that night. I packaged that up and held it in my memory as an amazing moment in my life. John met Will for the first time outside a restroom and he still jokes that he doesn’t wash that hand. I met Will after the show. I took pictures with Kesliann, John and Will. It was really awesome, but I was so disappointed with my appearance in the photos. I don’t meet people like that. I can’t think of anyone else that I have admired as much as an artist that I’ve met and yet I hated the photos. 

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Some dreams stay with you forever
Drag you around and lead you back to where you were

Shortly before meeting Will I had started working with my chiropractor to work on my hips and back. It was surely a low moment for me and I was struggling. Looking back now I don’t even recognize myself. If I told you it hurt to walk down the block- ached in my joints for days and it became completely impossible to do much of any activity for long. I stood that cold January night when Will came to town and I ached for days from not having a seat, but it was worth it for me. Partly in seeing that picture I was driven to do better and be better to myself. 

when you look back I hope I’ll always be your favorite waste of time

In 2008, Will was in a terrible accident that left him in critical condition and it was amazing that he even survived. That night watching him on stage at Kirk Avenue I was amazed by his ability to move and to get beyond all of his injuries and surgeries to be where he was then. It inspired me to work harder to move somehow… it took me a long time to really get it together, but I can mark my drive back to this night and in this moment. If Will could stand, dance, use such physical ability and stamina then… why couldn’t I?

Woman won’t you be strong now

I worked hard and in the year following seeing Will I tried running, went to the chiropractor and during the year lost 20 lbs and then yo yo’d back on 10 more before the full year had come through. This last year I really put my mosaic of me together. I have lost 35 lbs since I met Will, but it’s more than that- if you read my blogs you know that. I have a lot more gumption and surely the idea that I’ve gone from unable to make it down the block without days of pain to being able to run a 10k is just simply amazing. 

Where do we go from down
Where do we stop when the bottom has dropped out
I search for light in the shadow of a doubt

I have been wanting a “do-over” with Will. I wanted to go back and fix that image of myself. I wanted to just recapture that moment, but not hold onto the old me. I mean how many times do you get to meet someone you admire so much and when you actually met them it was your lowest of your lows? I can’t even appreciate that moment as much as I should given the memory of how terrible I had felt physically.

So for some time I have been hoping I could cross paths with Will again. I have searched facebook and his website hoping that a tour date would come nearby. I wasn’t sure I could make it happen financially and finding someone to watch the kids. So I’ve been waiting patiently. Yesterday, I decided to look back at that photo of myself with Will and I went to his webpage and flipped my lid when it said Winston-Salem March 7th. That’s a two + hour drive from our home. The weather was crappy so I checked the forecast… called the bar where he was performing… and then sent a text to John saying Will would be so close by. I called my father-in-law and his wife who live twenty minutes from Winston- Salem and asked if we could crash on them and would they watch the kids. They said yes… they knew I was excited, but until they read this they wont understand why. I purchased the tickets and Will posted on facebook that he was on for the night even given the nasty weather and within four hours we were on the road. I’m not a spontaneous person, but I am a woman on a mission.

The weather sucked and we arrived to my in-laws to no power and a slippery icy mess. We dropped off the kids and then our GPS died trying to find the bar, but we made it there with plenty of time before Will went on stage.  It was a perfect view and a wonderful time and I yet again was inspired by Will’s stage presence. It was dare I say… serendipitous. During the drive there I told John what made me want to see Will so badly and why it was so important to me. He was surprised but supported my mission. The mission of a do-over with Will. 

 

 

I was patient…. diligent… and I put my effort forth and my do-over came to fruition. 

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When you put it all together I honestly don’t even recognize myself. I can hardly even remember where I came from. The part that John pointed out was that since my surgery how my choice of clothing had changed. I feel so different and I should. Image

 

* Note all italicized items in this post are lyrics from various Will Hoge songs that have struck me over the last decade.