Happy Birthday Baby Boy

Jacob is 18 years old today. For me this is a huge pinnacle, my baby is grown up! When that happened, I do not know. He has grown into an amazing young man, with a tender heart and the intelligence of his childhood hero Albert Einstein; or at least the self confidence to convince us of that.

Following are a few of my favorite memories of Jacob.

Christmas, 1996, Making Christmas cookies with Suzie and the kids. Of course it results in a flour fight and some very ugly, yet endearing, cookies for Santa. "What you doing Jacob"? "Wookin' at woo." This was the same year the 'carrot tradition' began. If you don't know what the carrot tradition is, just drive by our house Christmas day and you'll see baby carrots everywhere. If Santa gets cookies then the reindeer deserve carrots, right?

It was nineteen hundred and ninety nine, Jacob is at an after school program, swinging he decides to jump out of the swing; many of us know what happened next. It didn't go so well, Jacob is rushed to the emergency room with a broken femur bone. When all is said and done, Jacob has spent six weeks in a full body cast. What an experience that was for all of us. One of my fondest memories was carrying Jacob outside, putting him in a lawn chair or sitting him on the back of my truck to look at the stars together. Those were some of my favorite moments with Jacob.

Inspiration in Chicago

I recently visited Chicago, what an amazing city. Even though the city did inspire me and I was impressed with it's magnificence; what truly inspired me was meeting up with a friend from my childhood. Teresa and I have known each other since kindergarten; it's been over 30 years since we've seen each other.

I don't feel at liberty to write about Teresa's life, that's her story to tell, suffice it to say Teresa has beat the odds and has done amazing things in her life. Listening to her and being with her was such a joy. She is happy and confident and gives you the impression that all things are possible.
Teresa has this great job taking her all over the world. She loves what she does and I get the impression she is very good at what she does. I thought, wow she's arrived; then she tells me she has a five year plan, this five year plan takes her to an entirely new adventure. She's not stopping, she's going to continue to move forward and accomplish new things. This was my moment of inspiration; I am going to make a five year plan too. Why should I settle for something I'm only somewhat satisfied with when there are so many opportunities in front of me. Not that I'm unhappy with my own accomplishments; I have no regrets. I've done a lot of things, and I'm very proud of myself. However, I have found myself thinking, "what if I had..." or "if I could do it over again, I would...".

Jacob has Graduated!!!












Last night my baby graduated!! Now this is a very monumental occasion. Why? Several reasons:

1) Soon we will no longer need to feed him.
2) Once he's off to college it won't be quite so obvious to us that he's playing WOW way too much.

3) We can fumigate the basement.

4) We can turn the basement into some amazing adult game room with a flat screen tv, a full bar, and a pool table. (we probably won't, but we could).

5) We no longer have to remind ourselves that we are still parenting this young man who lives in the basement.


Numerology

Thanks to a good friend's inspiration, my interest in Numerology has been reignited. OK, so I've been known to be a bit woo woo at times; going off on spiritual or metaphysical tangents, sometimes for years at a time. Numerology is something I seem to return to time and time again. I first tapped into it several years ago; it holds a certain intrigue for me. Maybe because it is analytical and intuitive; melding mathematics and science with spirituality.
Numerology is not so much a prediction of things to come but more like a road map of how things can be manifest at their highest potential. If we're aware of the road map we have the opportunity to focus our energy and attention; therefore, manifesting exactly what we need and want in our lives and in the Universe.


The Chaldean system of Numerology is based on the fact that letters, representing sound, have vibrational patterns. The Chaldean system assigns the number value by sound. The theory being that our birth name and our birthdate bring certain significance to our numerological blueprint. The blueprint shows us how our personal vibrational patterns resonate with the energy around us; with other people in our lives, with our home, our workplace, our community and our world.


One of my favorite aspects of numerology is the numero-log. Using the numbers correlating with the letters in our birthname and our birthdate, you build a numero-log. This log can act as a roadmap, helping us see what is happening in our lives. It helps us see how to use that vibration and energy to move from where we are to where we want to be. It makes us responsible for our present situation and our future; offering insight and guidance to help us take advantage of our unique place in the world.


When asked if I "believe" in numerology, tarot cards or astrology; my answer is "I don't know". I have the same answer when it comes to God, Jesus or prayer. I tend to think it's all just symbols and ideologies to help us through our lives. I do believe all things have potential for good and equal potential for bad. So whatever I believe in the moment, I try to stay in the goodness of it. Staying out of the judgment, the intolerance and the condescending behavior of thinking that I have some higher or better knowledge than someone else. I try to remember it's just a "belief", no matter how hard I believe in it; it's just a belief. I try to touch base every day with what's real, the people and the life around me; treating everyone and everything with respect.
I don't know what I believe. I live in the moment and believe what I see, hear, touch and feel in that moment. I believe in handling the moment with my best intention and my best efforts; loving and respecting those around me. And I believe in trying again the first, second, third and millionth time I've slipped up.


I never forget to laugh at myself, I try not to take myself too seriously, but those of you who know me know that's one of my biggest challenges. I enjoy philosophizing with friends and others. My mind seems to always be tuned in to spirituality; meaning, I'm fascinated with the sociology of religion and belief systems; how they start, how they form, how they fall. If I knew how to make money by researching and writing about religion, culture, belief systems I would. But for now, I'll just sit in my favorite armchair with my cup of coffee and blog for the entire stratosphere but mostly for myself.

The Man in the Sky


We watched an good movie last night titled "The Invention of Lying". It had a lot of interesting subtexts to be inspired by and to laugh at. Ricky Gervais did a good job portraying a world where no one was capable of lying until one man figured out how he could take advantage of everyone by saying whatever he wanted to in order to create his new fortune and fame.

"The Man in the Sky" being one of my favorite lies in the movie. While I'm sure this will ruffle the feathers of some, I found it to be quite funny and refreshing. It was about the invention of God for our own benefit; created to comfort us and to justify our lies and our lives.

I don't know if there is a God, I lean towards not believing in God. I don't understand how people can believe in God and Satan or in heaven and hell. But just because I don't understand it doesn't make it true or not true. As far as the topic of God is concerned I have decided the truth is irrelevant. That being said, I find the topic of God(s) and religion quite interesting. I could make a career out of studying why people believe what they believe and the path bringing them to their belief. I love the anthropology behind religious belief. I just wish religion and the extreme practice of religion didn't cause such division, judgment, heartache and destruction in the world.

Regardless of whether you believe in God or not, I recommend this movie. It is funny and entertaining, and it, undeniably, tells the truth about Coca Cola...

Have fun and be good.

Good Judgment

Five am, I'm wide awake; I have my coffee with vanilla frothy goodness, a candle and good music. The perfect moment for blogging and I have nothing on my mind. It's unusual that I'm not consumed with some crazy something to write about... wait a minute something just occurred to me.

I have recently been looking back on my facebook notes and I realized I never got back to thinking about, or commenting on a question a friend wrote on one of my posts.

The following thought was posed by Laurie Edwards, a new/old friend from high school. Laurie wrote this in response to an essay I had written about "Sin and Sinners"
.

"Isn't there a point at which each of us--or each group of us--MUST legislate what we think is right, outlawing that which we believe is wrong? At what point do individual rights get outweighed by the greater general good? Yeah, I know that "slippery slope" crap has been used by too many right-wingers to inflict their morality on us, but it DOES have some merit: Where do you draw the line between your right to live your life as you see fit, and society's right to make decisions for the group?"


In an effort to clarify and bring Laurie's question into context, my notes were about "hate the sin, love the sinner" and how much I dislike this phrase. I think those who might say this have good intention but, who's to say what is a sin and who is the sinner. It often times comes across a pious and judgmental.


In our efforts to become a truly non-judgmental person or society we need to live our lives and let others live theirs; seeking to be truly happy for all. I don't claim to be perfect at this, if I were I wouldn't be judging the judgmental.

So, when does it become OK to judge right and wrong and, as a society, place laws and restriction on people's choices and actions.
Big question, I'm sure there are a lot of different opinions amongst my friends who frequent my blog. Feel free to comment and share your own take on the topic.

I feel like it is my responsibility to live my life, to the best of my ability, according to the "
Four Agreements" while letting others live their life from wherever they happen to be at the time. Believing we are all exactly where we are suppose to be at all times. Not believing that where I am is any better or worse than where anyone else is.

That being said, there are those who take advantage of others and hurt others. This can be on a small scale, like stealing a neighbors newspaper; or a large scale, like 9/11 or the Holocaust.


In the US we make an effort to protect individuals and society by having laws and rules put into place by people who are chosen by a majority of the group at large. This is far from a perfect system, in fact I think the system is so broken it doesn't work most of the time. I want to clarify I'm not one who thinks we don't need government, I'm more one who would like to fix government. Another topic another day.


Back to Laurie's question; if we accept that there need to be laws in order to protect individuals and society then where is the line between law and freedom of choice?

I do believe government should regulate to protect the environment from large corporations who would dump their waste into our air and water; or an insurance company who would withhold a life saving medical treatment from someone who can't afford to pay for it; or from banks who charge outlandish interest rates on credit cards to make a profit; or a pharmaceutical company who would knowingly sale a drug for the wrong reason, resulting in someones death. (I do go on and on sometimes, don't I?) I believe government should legislate to protect the constitutional rights of
every citizen.

I don't believe government should be in the business of defining morality. What I mean by that is the government needs to keep their nose out of my spiritual beliefs, my family lifestyle and my sex life. Unless my spiritual beliefs, my family lifestyle or my sex life hurts another person or group of people. If my spiritual practice is to participate in human or animal sacrifice, then by all means step in. If my sex life involves raping another person or forcing someone to bend to my will, then step in.

It becomes a question of definition, with each of us defining things according to our beliefs. For example, I think Suzie and I should have the opportunity to marry and raise our family just like anyone else; I don't see how that can harm anyone. Yet someone else, perhaps even someone reading this post, might believe if Suzie and I were allowed to marry it would re-define marriage and, somehow, harm society or their family. I don't want to turn this into a discussion on gay marriage. I'm just using this in an effort to put across my point about legislating morality.

To summarize, I believe there is a place for judgment both in our own lives and in society at large. On an individual basis the trick is to make personal judgments in order to improve our own life not another person's life. On a societal basis, I think the trick is to leave God and religion out of it, and seek to protect human rights.

And, there are my thoughts for the day...

Doing the Right Thing

Written in 1998. Edited in 2010 and again in 2014.

Watching the waves roll onto the shore, gently soaking the sandy beach clears my mind; making way for the memories of my life. My life, just like the ocean, had so much going on under the surface; erupting volcanoes, changing tides all molding the future virtually unnoticeable on the surface.

Growing up Mormon my life seemed very calm and simple. Wrong was wrong and right was right. My world was very black and white. I knew what to expect and I knew what was expected of me; the answers to all life's questions always at my fingertips. One thing was certain; if I did “God's Will” all would be well, so I did God’s will. Yet under the calm and simple surface, something was erupting, not making any sense to me. I was different and I knew it, but I did not understand it.

When I was a young child I loved playing army and Mission Impossible, running with the boys and chasing the girls with grasshoppers. Suddenly, around twelve years old, I realized I enjoyed hanging out with girls. Not because I enjoyed playing Barbies or talking about boys, but because of the excitement I felt when I was with them.

As I grew older I became obsessive and passionate about certain friendships. I was very confused; 'how can I feel this way about girls when I am a girl? This can’t be good.' Somehow I thought if I ignored the eruptions going on under the surface everything would be as it "should" be. On occasions feelings for a girlfriend, like a huge wave, would surface and not knowing what to do with this huge wall of emotion and love I would simply wait for the feelings to crash in on top of me. I knew eventually I would surface and somehow stay afloat.

I managed to get through high school performing all the typical dating rituals including the first kiss with a boy. Yet I never knew the thrill of passion; I never felt the rush of adrenaline you feel when kissed by someone you're crazy about. I channeled all my energy into sports and school activities. I was the pride and joy of my parents and my church community.

The waves of emotion and love I felt towards women got bigger and stronger as I matured. I went to college and found myself in coed heaven. I learned how to ignore my feelings and ride them out. The only way I could explain these intense love affairs of the mind and heart was to think of these women as soul mates. They were kindred spirits, held in such a deep and silent part of my heart. The 'soul mate' explanation went a long way in minimizing the dissonance I was experiencing.

I served a mission for the Mormon church in Taiwan and Thailand. After my mission I returned to BYU and fell in love with my roommate. We were very close; it felt like she was the only person in my life who could hold such a place in my heart. I loved her as I had never loved anyone before. I treated her as if she were the queen of all creation, I honored and cherished her, I lived and breathed for her. Every love song on the radio reminded me of her.

I'm sure my roommate loved me too; but not the way I loved her. She wanted nothing more than to be with the right man for time and all eternity. We often joked at how perfect it would be if I were a guy. We slept and snuggled in the same bed. I was as affectionate as I could be without bringing on criticism from other roommates or friends. More specifically I did not want to admit to myself that there was anything 'gay' going on.

In my senior year I became engaged to a really great guy. We shared many aspirations and goals. We had a mutual love for the church and a desire to make a difference in the world. We began planning our wedding and our life together. As our engagement went on, I found myself caught in whirlpools of emotion, never knowing what to do, more than once I tried to talk myself out of the engagement, but I always found myself back on the marriage track.

I became very depressed. I could not stand to have my fiance touch me, or kiss me; when he tried to be the least bit affectionate I found myself screaming inside and longing to be back in my bed snuggled up next to my roommate. The wedding day came and I was married. It took me years to get over my roommate, my heart was broken, but of course it was the “right” thing to do.

For awhile life remained calm and my feelings went deep and unnoticed. My husband was good to me; we had a great life together. I had it all, three beautiful children, a loving husband and the true church; what more could anyone ask for?
 
As time went on it became increasingly difficult for me to have an intimate relationship with my husband. It did not seem to get easier, or to make much sense. This started to interfere with other areas of our lives. It finally got to a point where I couldn't take it anymore. I would escape time and time again by going to the beach by myself, or anywhere, to avoid dealing with my life.

I remember the day I came "out" to myself. I was reading a book, sent to us by a good friend, entitled 'Peculiar People'. This book told the stories of individuals in the Mormon Church who had come out as gay men or women and survived. It told the experiences from the different points of view of the spouse, the parents and the individual. I found myself absorbed in the stories, highlighting nearly every sentence in the accounts written by other women. Wow, could I relate. That day I took a pen and paper and I wrote the words "I am a lesbian." I had never been able to write these words before. I cried all day. I left for the beach, I had to think, I had to write-there was so much on my mind. The freedom I felt is difficult to explain. I felt so liberated and free yet so scared and confused. For the first time my whole life made sense.

A few days later I came out to my husband; I told him through my sobs and then he held me, he held me all night as I cried. We decided we would stay together. We would stay together and deal with the situation the best we could. For the next nine months we went on like nothing had changed yet everything had changed for me. I had to deal with my feelings every minute of the day. I would cope and cope until unable to do so anymore. I would find ways to escape by writing, or going to the beach or other out of the way places. Then one day I broke; I was unable to be honest with myself, honor who I was and stay in the same life I had built for myself. The life I was living was not authentic and it was destroying me inside.

I found a support group in Portland and for the first time in my entire life I was surrounded by women who understood what I was saying and how I was feeling. Their nods of understanding and their songs of love and support flooded my heart and soul with acceptance. I could see where I needed to direct my life, I wanted to be where I was loved and accepted; where I could begin the long task of loving and accepting myself. I realized there was a difference between being celebrated and just being tolerated and I wanted to be celebrated.


I returned home, but I couldn't stop thinking of the feeling of love and support I had experienced with these women. I continued with therapy and my efforts at my Mormon, heterosexual existence. As hard as I tried, my heart was heavy and I wanted to be honest and authentic and loved. Still, in my mind, I felt it was wrong to think of anything but staying married and Mormon. I no longer fully believed in the Mormon theology, many years of questioning and reasoning had caused my belief of the church teachings to fade for me. But staying was the “right” thing to do for my family.

I knew I was on a dangerous course of self destruction. I didn't have the energy or clarity to be a good mom. I finally told my husband that I was sure of my sexual orientation and I needed to leave our marriage and live a more authentic, honest life. I made my choice, I wanted a divorce. I was determined I was not going to leave my children, but I was going to leave my marriage. At this point I did not know if I would ever have the relationship I dreamed of; but, I knew I would rather be alone in this world than in a life of lies. I’m sure my husband was deeply hurt by my decision, and felt helpless as we proceeded with the divorce. We did what we had to do to take care of things.

The painful process went on, for me it was a process of ending a life I no longer wanted: Mormonism, marriage, my role as a housewife. I stopped attending the Mormon Church, got the paperwork started for the divorce and I began looking for a place to live, a job and a way to keep my children. There was never a question of custody of the children, we would share custody 50/50.

I kept going and going, each day taking on a new task. I was pushing toward my new life at a very rapid pace. Then suddenly I crashed. It was like hitting a huge rock that tore a hole in my ship; a hole big enough to sink me. My whole system shut down. I had a complete emotional breakdown. I was unable to function. I had panic attacks lasting all day. I had, maybe, five minutes of peace a day if I was lucky. I couldn't breathe, I would pace the floor screaming and moaning. One day two Mormon friends came from Portland, packed my bags, and took me to their home for a few days. While I was there my body was under complete attack. I felt so out of control. Looking back I realize this was my "breakthrough", not my “breakdown”. At the time, it was incredibly difficult.

I returned home and told my husband that I still wanted a divorce, but I was totally unable to move forward until I was better. My husband, who I’m sure by this time had shut himself down emotionally in order to protect himself, managed to reach out to me. He supported me through this incredibly difficult time. The children were not able to understand what was happening; however, we talked with them along the way trying to be as open and honest with them as we could.

I put all decisions on hold and concentrated only on getting well. I got myself to the doctor and was put on multiple anxiety medications. I was also taking homeopathic medicine to boost my immune system. I was in therapy two or three times a week. I was heavily involved in self-healing through meditation, visualization and prayer. Friends were reaching out to me in every direction. I learned a great deal during this intense time of healing.

After a lot of effort and hard personal work I felt well enough to proceed with our divorce. It was still difficult but I stayed focused on my new goals. I had experienced a healing within myself that is so hard to explain. I felt as though I had been turned inside out examined, cleaned and turned inward again. I would never again wonder if I was doing the “right” thing; I would never again wonder if I was a good person worthy of love.

I was able to get a job and move in with a friend. I did what I had to do to keep in touch with my children. I held two jobs and traveled 45 miles (sometimes at 1:00 am after working a 13 hour shift) only to spend a few hours with my children and then head back to work again. It was physically exhausting, but it was better than where I had been. In my spare time I kept very busy with my new life, which consisted of new friends and new understandings of life and love. I soon gave up my two jobs and started working at a New Thought Center called the Living Enrichment Center. Here I found such a warm, supportive and caring environment.

I had recently started attending a support group called Affirmation. This was a group of Mormon Gays and Lesbians. I decided to go to Seattle to a national conference to be with people who had been through similar experiences as myself and understood the whole Mormon part of me. Little did I know that I was about to meet someone who would become the love of my life.

I was a bit nervous walking into the dining room that first night of the conference.  I was looking for someplace, not too intimidating, to sit down and I headed for a table of gay men and one woman. Once the boys had vetted me and established I was available and possessed desirable personality traits suitable for their 'girl' I was golden.

My trip to Seattle became my initiation into a new and wonderful world where I finally belonged. Suzie and I were pretty much inseparable the entire conference. After the conference, Suzie went back to New York and I to Portland. We continued to correspond through e-mail and the telephone, connecting and getting to know each other. We went back and forth from New York to Oregon, each trip bringing us closer.

Several months later Suzie moved to Portland and we began our life together. On October 19, 1996, Suzie and I committed to one another in the midst of our loved ones at a ceremony at the Living Enrichment Center with the Reverend Sally Rutis officiating. Paul (10), Katie (8) and Jacob (4) took part in the ceremony as Suzie committed to support and love them in their lives as they continue to grow. Buckets of tears were shed. Tears that just a year before were tears of fear and anxiety were now tears of happiness and love.

Fast forward to 2010, Suzie and I have been together for *14 years. I put the asterisk in because there are stories to tell of a brief time we weren’t so happily ever after, (another book, another day). The most important thing is that we’re together today and we have had so many opportunities to recommit our love and strengthen our union. Suzie has been there through thick and thin with me. Together, with My ex-husband and his wife, we are committed to being a family and raising our children in a healthy environment; two very different households supporting each other in all of the important ways.

Over the last 14 years there have been so many times I have had to come to terms with my fears of ruining my children or that the church was ruining my children. There were times I was sure the kids were going to be totally messed up. Each time those fears crept in I found ways to let go of them, realizing each one of the children was on their own path, experiencing life in their own way, creating their own reality; if anything I was giving them excellent material for a book deal some day. 

I can look back now and be proud of the way we have all thrived as a family. All three of the kids are happy, successful and well adjusted. I believe their lives are more balanced and their outlooks on life are more open and loving because of their personal experience.

Today, life is good.

Now it is 2014. Suzie and I, after 19 years together, are finally able to get married. Our wish was to wait and have a big fat 'traditional' marriage with friends and family; however, there was a chance that a stay would be put in place and that gay marriages would be halted. We wanted to be safe, and not sorry, so we legally tied the knot in a small gathering at a friend's house. On May 31st we got together with Lisa and Carl Knodle-Bragiel and Lynn and Jason Hopson. Carl performed a short, lovely ceremony. Lisa and Lynn witnessed and boom chakalaka we are lawfully wedded spouses.

On July 12, 2014 we will have a celebration with a traditional ceremony. Sally Rutis, the minister who performed our commitment ceremony 18 years ago, will officiate. We will exchange rings and have cake and cocktails to celebrate our love. I'm so happy to see that marriage equality is spreading around the country and the world.

My hope is that one day someone reading this writing will think 'how bizarre that there was a day when two women, or two men, were not allowed to marry.' 

Here's to love and life. Cheers to choice.

WTF Supreme Court?!?!

Wow, I haven't posted since October. It's not that I haven't been drinking carafes full of coffee or having tons of inspirations. I just didn't feel the need to share, I guess. However, the recent ruling of the Supreme Court has re-energized my anger and frustration.

I'm frustrated on so many levels at the Supreme Court ruling to give corporations and unions the right to give as freely as they like in federal elections. This further corrupts an already corrupt political system flooded with special interest money.

Saying that corporations and unions need protection for their 1st amendment rights is ludicrous. They are NOT people. Here's a thought each corporation or union that wants to claim their rights to freedom of speech should be willing to have an individual who is responsible for the words being spoken. That person would will also be the one responsible for the corporation when they murder someone or dump waste in our water. In other words, the pharmaceutical company that wants to blast the airways with ads for or against health care, or any other issue or politician, can do so; but when one of their drugs is found to be responsible for the death of someone that person goes in front of jury and is brought to justice; just like you or I would be if we killed someone. That person, if the corporation is found guilty, would go to jail. Not just required to pay a fine as in so many cases that involve pharmaceutical companies that knowingly push harmful drugs.

We, as a people, need to educate ourselves on all issues and candidates. The low information voter who bases their decision on TV ads or radio ads needs to arm themselves with information and knowledge. Visit websites like factcheck.org, find reliable sources dealing with fact not opinion. Form your own ideas independent of public or party opinion. This is hard work, few people do it. I, myself, am guilty of going straight to the endorsement page to see who is for or against a measure or a particular politician. The way that bills and measures are written make it difficult for the lay person to understand them, therefore, opinion happens. Talk to people and read information; listen to the opinion of groups and individuals you trust and base your own conclusions on what you learn from them. Don't limit yourself to the people who agree with you.

It would be very helpful to me if all politicians, like Nascar drivers, would wear patches of their sponsors; they should visibly wear some symbol of their top ten contributors. If a politician is owned by big oil or banking or the Teamsters, they should have a hat or a patch letting us know who owns them. Who is really voting on the floor of the senate or the house legislating my life.

I've always felt that the real civil war in this country is going to end up being a "class war". This becomes more and more evident every year, big money against "we the people". What good is my $100 political contribution going to do against the treasury of a Fortune 500 company. I guess I'll hang on to my money and buy groceries.