More Wisdom from Winnie

Today’s blog post is short and sweet – it is a quote attributed to that silly old bear, Winnie the Pooh. Sometimes the best advice comes from the most unconventional sources…

Braver than you think...

“You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, smarter than you think and loved more than you know.” I hope each of us remember that today, and everyday…

Thank you, too, to the artist that created this print. I would happily identify him or her, if I knew who they were.

Advertisements

No Go, No Dough

I am encouraged by recent reports streaming across the internet. It seems that, FINALLY, America’s gay and lesbians are tired of the BS that Washington has been feeding us all, especially binational same-sex couples, and we have/are deciding to make a statement.

Our emerging new mantra seems to be, “NO GO, NO DOUGH.”

And it appears that Washington might finally, actually be hearing us…  No DoughWho woudda’ thunk that, when we FINALLY threatened to let the well run dry, all of a sudden, NOW politicians are starting to sit up and listen. It seems maybe The Hill is finally on the brink of a huge WTF? moment. It makes me sad to realize that politicians are a lot like children – when children misbehave and lose their allowance, they “try harder.” When well-heeled, politically-involved gay and lesbian philanthropists “call out” elected officials and announce they will be withholding their donations, well I’m guessing like a dozen pages, a few aides and a handful of spin doctors run up to Senator whomever, or Congressman what’s-her-name or dare I say – The President – and say, “Look, we have a HUGE PR problem brewing, not to mention the potential loss of hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations.”

And I say, “Hell yeah – FINALLY.”

I think Miama-based philanthropist Jonathan Lewis best summed it up when he said, “Now is the time to stop investing in Democratic cowardice and stand proud by withholding donations until we see our  friends’ actions and deeds align with their rhetoric,” as well as “Pretty words about fairness and equality under the law from the president and Democrats in Congress do not absolve them from their moral duty to act.” (view the original Huffington Post piece here.)

From the same article, “The issue of marriage is a fundamental right,” said Juan Ahonen-Jover, a Florida-based entrepreneur and philanthropist who spends his time promoting equal rights for the LGBT community. “Even prisoners on death row have the right to marry.” (view the original Huffington Post piece here.)

EVEN PRISONERS ON DEATH ROW HAVE THE RIGHT TO MARRY.

Think about that for a minute then you’ll understand why “the gays” have finally had it with Washington.

Gay and lesbian citizens in binational, same-sex relationships are especially fed up. The carrot of The Uniting American Families Act – legislation that would allow gay and lesbian citizens the right to sponsor their foreign permanent partners for immigration purposes – has been dangled in their faces for almost a generation. Within the past few weeks, that dangling carrot was “jerked away” again when amendments with UAFA provisions were removed in the eleventh hour from the immigration reform proposal crafted by the infamous Senate Gang of Eight. Binational couple are now starting to paraphrase Peter Finch from the iconic film, Network – “I’m a human being, goddammit, and my life has value. I’m as mad as hell and I’m not gonna’ take this any more!” (view the original Network clip here.)

By withholding our dollars, maybe we can FINALLY get Washington to “make good” on all the years and years of promises they have made – and subsequently broken – to get our money and our votes. Rachel B. Tiven, Executive Director of Immigration Equality, …insists real damage has been done. “Very, very, very large donors to the Democratic Party have told me how angry they are, how much they feel politicians lied to them,” she said. (view the original New Republic piece here.)

For years I have always wished that our leaders in Washington – one leader in particular – would “grow a pair.” Now I see that wish was misdirected. It is the gay and lesbian community at large, and binational same-sex couples in particular, that have needed to do “the growing.”

I’m glad I realized that and have started chanting, “No Go, No Dough.” I hope my brothers and sisters join the chorus, and soon. We need all the voices we can get for our song to be heard.

Letting Go…

Close friends know that I have been in therapy for years. YEARS. I’ve never really been ashamed about it; in fact, in an odd way, I feel kinda’ proud that I have spent the better part of a decade and a half confronting my “demons,” some of them given to me by others and some of them created on my own. Most of my demons have been banished now – I like to think I am a pretty dang good person, pretty whole. Sometimes, though, it is easy to fall back into old ways of thinking and/or old patterns of behavior, which is why I am writing this post…

For more than a week, I have been personally fermenting and fretting over some recent political actions in DC. I have walked around with a level of rage inside, mixed with feelings of disappointment, anger, betrayal (a LOT of betrayal) and hopelessness. It is NOT a place I like to be. Which brings me back to one of my therapy experiences…

Some time back in my journey, I had feelings I just could not “let go” of no matter how hard I tried. My awesome therapist asked me to “name them” and then asked if I would be willing to try a new way to get rid of them. She suggested I get a helium balloon for each negative memory, person or emotion I could not seem to shake. I was to transfer all that negative emotional energy into each one of those balloons, pick a calm, peaceful spot that I could revisit when necessary and then, with purpose, joy, a deep breath and conviction, let the balloons go…

Balloon release

I was lucky enough to have my beloved M with me and, as he held my hand and I squeezed his, we watched those balloons float away for as long as we could see them. It was such a release for me; I remember silently crying, tears streaming down my cheeks as all that darkness left me. I was so happy.

I feel I might need to take a swing by that place again very soon. (It is a very old, beautiful park not too far from where we live). The “ugly” I released that day has not come back – instead, in its place, I feel a sense of sadness and “doom and gloom” creeping in after last week’s events. I want to send those feelings away ASAP, too…

I won’t need the balloons this time – I think I have honed my focus and technique enough that I do not need the “props.” What I do need is that serene, green space and a few moments to reconnect with the all the good in The Universe and send away some of the bad.

I’m not sure where all my “balloons” are winding up, but I’d definitely like to thank that place for taking them off my hands. I hope you have room for a few more…

beLIEf

Lately I have become a little disenchanted with Washington, politicians and the “democratic process” in general, especially as those three things intersect with the proposed immigration reform bill being considered on the hill. Recently, amendments that would have FINALLY created an avenue for America’s gay and lesbian citizens in binational relationships to sponsor their foreign partners for immigration were withdrawn in the eleventh hour. Binational same-sex couples were thrown under the bus AGAIN, for the umpteenth time now. It was, to borrow the wording of a very large, national immigration reform organization, “dispiriting” to say the least…

The thing is, the groups protesting/squawking the loudest, demanding that these amendments be removed were the Catholic, Baptist and Evangelical coalitions – you know, the “Christian faiths” with all their alleged piety and respect for all of mankind. That makes me puke. This action – denying two people that love one another the very basic and fundamental right to just be together, physically –  is reprehensible and, in my opinion, morally-corrupt. I myself was raised in the Catholic faith and many of the things that are “good” about me are a result of that upbringing. I no longer observe the faith, more out of respect for it than animosity towards it – but that might be changing. I mean, I don’t know that I was ever the best, most devout Catholic but I do know this – the God I served, and the God you all profess to honor and worship, is ashamed at how you are behaving now.

So anyway, I know I have shared with you all before that I will sometimes scan BING images, looking for inspiration for my blog posts. And today, in an effort to come out of my funk, I typed in “believe” and hit search. This image appeared:

Belief (Lie) I must confess, I took its appearance as an actual moment of Divine intervention. In one, graphic moment, it succinctly expresses the conflict I am feeling inside about so many things – an all-loving, all-embracing God, served on earth by the largest group of haters ever; the pack of two-faced politicians I helped elect to office – the ones that lie right to your face to make you a believer/get your vote then kick your ass to the curb the minute they feel a little heat from the “Christians;” the hollow hope that within my lifetime America will FINALLY live up to the ideals and tenets it professes but falls so miserably short of attaining. These are three of the battles raging in my heart/soul at the moment, and this image pretty much sums up where I am at presently in resolving those conflicts…

I hate liars. I hate people that promise one thing and do the other. Maybe someone should invent a machine with the display above that floats over the head of every clergyman and every politician in America, so that whenever they speak, we can immediately see if they are speaking the truth from their heart (belief) or lying (LIE) to our face. THAT is an invention whose time has definitely come…

Honoring the True Meaning of Memorial Day

I guess I have never considered myself to be super patriotic and, if you have been reading my posts lately, I am currently pretty disillusioned with the whole United States political system in general. That said, days like today give me a chance to pause, reflect and re-engage.

America is still regarded as the greatest country on the planet, with the best overall standard of living, the best educational system, the best/most stable economy – the best place to “simply be.” America is the country where “Dreams come true.” Our country was founded on the notion that all men – and women – are created equal. We profess to have the greatest civil liberties of any country on earth yet America’s gays and lesbians are, by and large, still treated like second class citizens. Oh sure, we endure “polite” elevator speeches about gay and lesbian rights and equality but the fact is you can still be fired from your job just for being gay or lesbian in many states, less than 20% of the states offer some form of marriage “equality” for us homos and we STILL cannot sponsor our foreign partners for immigration. Those are just three of the hundreds of rights currently denied gay and lesbian American citizens.

Memorial Day. A day of remembrance, honoring those men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our nation. Sounds noble and pretty, right? Here is a photographic reminder of what Memorial Day’s “ultimate sacrifice” really represents:

Draped CoffinsAccording to web resources, Memorial Day is a national holiday to honor those brave men and women who have died in the service of our country, protecting all that makes America great. I definitely cannot speak for any of those soldiers, nor do I want to put words in their mouths but I imagine quite a few of them would be disappointed with the America we have today – which, in my opinion, is NOT the idealized America they died defending and protecting.

I was fortunate to be spared military service but feel I have contributed much towards making America a great country. I do all the things every American should do – obey the laws, pay taxes, rah-rah on patriotic holidays. But I also believe in the American ideal enough to have opened a small business, to have invested in the local and national economy and to be the best “ambassador” I can be for my city, state and country to the world at large. I am politically-involved and work very hard to make sure that eventually ALL Americans, regardless of age, race, ability, gender or sexuality, are treated fairly and equally. I feel we as a country are doing these fallen soldiers a great disservice by STILL quibbling over gay and lesbian equality/rights. These men and women died so ALL Americans could enjoy the same rights, treatment and privileges under the law, including gays and lesbians.

Today has re-energized my spirit to pursue that same goal, albeit in a non-combat setting. Or maybe not – I sense a huge battle coming in America. Maybe I have been a soldier all along, training and waiting for the big battle yet to come…

 

 

My Parma Pastiche

Last night, my Sweetie and I ended our eight-day run as the world’s most amazing “Human Companions” to Xander, The Wonder Dog, a giant schnauzer owned by two of our dearest, closest friends. Overall, my Sweetie and I had a GREAT time – Xander is an exceptional dog (we are exceptional dog-sitters, too!), our hosts were super generous, leaving us a beautiful house chocked full of yummy food and a big-ass TV, a Wii, a PS2 and an amazing backyard. I feel kinda’ guilty, like we should pay them for letting us stay-cation at their house. Anyhow, it was a great, great visit and we would/will do it again in a minute…

In a previous post, I think I mentioned our friends live in Parma, a large “suburb” of Cleveland – it’s not really even a suburb; Parma is pretty dang big! Anyhow, it is always fun to “live somewhere new” even if it is on a stay-cation. You see new people and new things – it’s just fun. So, with that in mind, I’d like to share with you my impressions of Parma – this is my “Parma Pastiche…”

One thing I didn’t know about Parma before actually “living there” was just how beautiful the city is – sure, it is a little “urban sprawl-y” but there are many, many areas that are nice and green and Parma has more crazy wood benches just plopped everywhere than I have ever witnessed in any city. I guess it speaks to a more laid-back pace of life and I like that…

bench in nature

These images were all taken by the lake we walked Xander around almost every day. The lake is the centerpiece of a huge apartment complex, well-maintained and pretty nice. There are benches all around the lake, which is populated with mallard ducks, Canadian geese and, for at least two days in a row, this blue heron (I think it is a blue heron). Those wood benches are all OVER Parma, and I think that is awesome.

Another thing I didn’t know about Parma is just how sentimental the residents there must be. This can be witnessed by the amazing number of roads, all with variations of the same name: York Road/Olde York Road, Pleasant Valley Road/ Old Pleasant Valley Road/West Pleasant Valley Road and so on…

York Road / Olde York Road

I find this “attachment” to names charming, although as someone with no sense of direction, I also found it to be a bit challenging at times… I mean, who names streets like that?

A couple things I had heard about Parma were confirmed during our stay there. Parma is definitely a city of immigrants. Parma has a Polish neighborhood, a Ukrainian neighborhood as well as a fair sprinkling of Indian and Middle Eastern peeps as well. I think it is kinda’ cool that each of these groups maintains the “history and traditions” of their old country here in their new country. My great grandparents immigrated from Germany in the late 1800’s and wanted nothing more than to “be” American. My family has few traditions tying us back to our German roots and, to be honest, I miss that… Anyway, nothing brought this situation home more than when I stopped to buy some perogies on my way to work Friday morning…UAYA perogies sale

When I entered this room, I felt like I was somewhere else – there were like nine sweet little old ladies all “stuffing and pinching” perogies, talking in a language I didn’t recognize. When I asked if I could take their picture, they all smiled and adjusted their hairnets – it was ADORABLE. I mentioned I had Polish friends (my Sweetie is Polish) and they asked me if I was Polish; I said no, that I was German and then one of the ladies started rattling off German to me! When I “Nein’ed” them and delivered the only sentence I know in German – “Ein kaffe und ein bracht” (one coffee and one bread), they all giggled, laughed and clapped their hands. It was amazing – as are their perogies.

O.M.G – they are mouthwatering…

Something else I had also always heard about Parma was the local fascination with yard decorations. I must say, I was unprepared for the array of lawn decor I encountered there: Virgins, Holy Families, Angels, Lighthouses, Kissing Dutch Children, Concrete Geese in Festive Holiday attire – if you can imagine it, it exists in a yard – in multiple YARDS – in Parma. It is actually kinda’ sweet – you see, my Mom had a “fascination” for yard decorations as well. Now, the thing is, before you judge, the lawns in Parma are all impeccably manicured. Short of cities in Florida, I have never seen such well-manicured, well- landscaped lawns anywhere besides Parma.

Parma Ohio LawnsThe house in the top image had, left to right, a lighthouse, an angel, a concrete goose (on the porch) a skipping child and, outside the image on the right, a Virgin and two lovers on a park bench. The Upright Bear lower left is from a house that has not one, not two but THREE tree carvings like this along their front lawn (and this is the SMALLEST one!) And finally, the bottom right image is, I swear, a portion of the Tivoli Fountain with a small lawn jockey as well (sorry for the blurry image – this was taken on the fly while walking an impatient 75 pound dog, LOL!) Now, granted, the yards above are all a bit extreme but again, every sidewalk and driveway looked like that had been edged with tweezers, the bushes and flowers all well-placed and planted. So, listen – people in Parma like lawn statues. So what? My Mom in Shelby did, too.

So, in summation, this is what I learned from my stay in Parma – it is a nice city that may be a little quirky but who wants to be average, right? Everyone there is very friendly; I would definitely live there. Plus, I learned that, the MINUTE we live somewhere where dogs are allowed, we will have one. My Sweetie loves dogs – and to be honest? – I guess I do, too…

I would love to see this beautiful picture every day. So pure. So sweet. So happy…

my Sweeties

  My Sweetie and Xander, heading off “into the sunset…”

 

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggity Jig

Our friends returned from their beach holiday today, so my SBF and I are officially back home again after an eight day mini-stay-cation at their palatial home in Parma. It was a GREAT break from our normal routine and it was super fun being “Dog Daddies” to Xander the Magnificent while they were away… Isn’t it funny how you are always “sad” at the end of a vacation, even when you are stay-cation-ing and actually doing nothing more than “human companion-ing” a sweet dog a mere 30 minutes away from your own home? I will have more thoughts on that in tomorrow’s post.

For tonight, this nursery rhyme keeps running through my head:

how-to-draw-a-pig-3“Home again, home again, jiggity jig…”

It’s always nice to be away but always great to come back home, to sleep in your own bed, in your own home, surrounded by your own things – and to be blessed with falling asleep/waking up beside the one person you love most in the whole world… ‘Nite y’all!