Archive for May, 2015

Last week I wrote about pet peeves, things that drive us insane at times. I do like to keep things balanced, so this week I’m writing about things that bring me joy.

Joy is different than happiness, a term that I use in to describe my constant feelings about certain parts of my life. For example, I have happiness in my marriage. That’s something that is all the time; a state, if you will, rather than a moment. Do I have moments of joy in my marriage? Undoubtedly, yes! But in my mind, joy is one of those things that happens spontaneously, a moment that catches you off-guard and can take your breath away while filling you with, well, joy!

For me, joy can be elusive. It’s not that I want to be joyless, but depression makes it hard to feel good things sometimes. Therefore, when I do experience something that brings true joy, the feeling is so profound that it stays with me. Moments of joy give me hope and keep me going. From the silly to the sacred, reactions vary from genuine laughter from deep inside to quiet awe and reverence. Here are some of my favorite things that bring me joy.

When Marty Man does something romantic. We’ve been married a long time, but he still has that power to make my heart flutter. It can be the surprise book that he ordered for me because he knew I would want it, the spontaneous, “I love you” that drifts across the couch, or even just a look that he sends my way. My husband brings me joy.

Connecting with my kids. I love my boys, always, but when we have a moment, whether it’s snuggle time or a good conversation, it makes my heart swell. They get closer to being on their own every day, which makes those moments precious to me.

Baby belly giggles. Completely unresistable. Hands down one of my favorite sounds in the entire world. I dissolve into a puddle of joy. It’s so real, so genuine. I can take on the world after hearing a baby lose it in laughter.

The ocean. Wild, raw, powerful, untamable. I love being around water in any case, but something about the ocean just fills my whole being when I watch it. I could stand there for hours.

Travel. Not necessarily the nitty-gritty parts of it, but the very thought of going somewhere, especially somewhere on my bucket list, is more exciting than Christmas morning. Right now, I’m looking forward to Italy. One month from today I’ll be in Rome. The anticipation is wonderful, but the reality will be even better. Even the opportunity to drive someone else to or from the airport makes me giddy, because it’s a wonderful place. I know, I’m a dork, but that’s okay.

Sleeping babies in my arms. I can’t even explain. Settling a baby down so that he or she is sleeping in your arms is amazing. They’re just so perfect, so innocent and beautiful.

Feeling God’s presence or understanding when He’s at work. When I’m reading the Bible or something related and a point just hits home, there’s no mistaking it, especially after I’ve been through a rough patch and the result is something that I never would have expected or planned for, but I know is right. The awareness that comes through and the feeling of being close to Him is indescribable, but joy is in that mix so it definitely belongs on my list. He is my everything.

Seeing the sun and clear blue sky after several cloudy ones. Relief, just pure relief and joy. I don’t know if this is a depression thing, but I do know that people, in general, feel better when it’s sunny out. It’s especially joy-inducing when it has been hot, awful, and muggy. I hate muggy. It makes my skin crawl, so when that lifts after several days and the sky is that clear, clear blue, it’s heavenly.

Music. I don’t know where I’d be without music. It helps to cope with or enhance every emotion, from the dark deep holes I can get into to the best moments in my life. There is a song for every feeling, every day, every time. Music understands.

Writing. I amost didn’t include this one, because when I write, I have to fight the nagging feeling at the back of my mind that tells me I should be doing laundry, or cleaning, or something else mundane because writing feels like such a guilty pleasure, but the times when I really just put that on the back burner and allow myself to get lost in my story or my blog are really full of joy. I love to write and I wish that I could make more time to do it. A work in progress, yes?

I’d love to know what brings you joy. Life is hard, joy gets us through.

Until next time.

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It has been quite the week, so I’m blowing off some steam today, on the less serious side. Well, some of them are kind of serious when they happen. It’s sometimes hard to forget that they are just that: pet peeves. Still, they’re annoying as heck. Here are some of my biggest ones.

Not using a turn signal when driving. You are not James Bond. You are not evading or tailing a super spy. You do not need to hide your movements. I promise that I will let you over (unless you’re driving like a jackass) and I’d much prefer to know that you are moving into my lane rather than be surprised. This turn signal thing also bugs me when I’m waiting to turn onto a street and I’m waiting for a car to pass, only to have the car turn a few blocks before it gets to me. Super-annoying. My time is wasted and now I’m irritated, thank you very much. Really, how much of your time does it take to flip the little lever on your steering wheel? Sheesh.

People who talk during any kind of performance. As an actor and as a mom with kids who are involved in school performances, I see this a lot and it’s really rage-inducing. If your conversation is important, TAKE IT OUTSIDE!!! I want to hear what the performers have practiced for weeks or months, not a random conversation on someone’s extended family. It’s really, really, rude, not to mention distracting, to talk during a performance, whether it’s a band concert, a community theatre play, or a movie. Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Bicyclists who ride in the street but don’t follow the rules. This really burns me and it falls under the serious category. This is DETROIT, not the Tour de France, although one would think so from how these folks are dressed. You do not need to be aerodynamic in the city. If you are riding in the road, you MUST stop at stop signs and lights. It’s the LAW. I once sat at a green light while a 50-bike blob decided to go right through their red light like they were a funeral procession. A fast funeral procession in neon spandex and pointy helmets. Look, folks, this is Outer Drive, not the French countryside. I hope, I hope that a police officer caught up with them at some point and gave them all humongous tickets. Look, I’m all for bike lanes and giving bicyclists a wide berth. I wish I could ride to work. It’s great for the environment, it’s healthy, and it’s fun, but follow the frickin’ rules. It’s just not safe, in fact, it’s downright arrogant, to zip through a red light and assume that traffic will stop for you. Plus, the spandex looks stupid. (Sorry, but it does.)

And while we’re on the topic of driving…

Driving under the speed limit. Oh. My. Gosh. We have places to go. If something is wrong with your car, turn on your hazard lights and get thee to the nearest service station. Otherwise, drive the posted speed (at least), especially during rush hour.

Loud, obnoxious swearing in public. I’m no angel. I swear on occasion, but it’s not terribly often and very rarely in public. I’m not talking about that kind of swearing, when one is with friends or in the heat of anger. I’m talking about the people who swear like they’re twelve years old and out of earshot of mom, who think that every other word in public should be a loud f-bomb or something similar. Really, it makes one sound uneducated and ridiculous. There is a time and a place for such things and Target or your local family diner is not it, especially when there are kids around. Manners, folks, manners.

Parents who yap on their phones instead of parenting. Another serious one, I think I blogged on this at some point. This makes me crazy, especially when the child is being a hellion and no discipline is happening. Hang up and stop your angel from wreaking havoc in the restaurant or on the playground. It makes me sad when I see a parent pushing their baby in a stroller and all they’re doing is talking on the phone. Talk to your BABY! A baby’s brain is primed and ready to soak up knowledge. It’s amazing how they respond to you. Studies show over and again that talking to you baby promotes language development in the brain, it teaches babies how to read facial expressions and how to interact with other humans, and increases literacy potential. Those baby and toddler years are so precious and go by so fast, please don’t waste them on the cell phone. Really, who is more important than your child? Be a parent.

Using all of the toilet paper on the roll and not replacing it. My children. You know who you are.

And last but certainly not least,

Memes on Facebook that tell you to share this in the next twenty minutes and you’ll get money, share if you love Jesus, if you love God, share and you’ll have good luck, etc. God doesn’t care if I share a Facebook post and I would venture to say that Jesus doesn’t either. Not one friend who has ever shared these posts has ever suddenly become rich or lucky. Just saying.

That’s all for now. Of course, there are more, but people who complain too much are also on the list, so I’ll end here. Until next time.

Peace and love.

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The Supreme Court certainly has its hands full this week. They’re about to decide if gay couples have the right for their marriages to be recognized in all 50 states, regardless if the state itself voted for or against gay marriage. As expected, some people are ecstatic that this happening at last while some are vehemently protesting that marriage should be between a man and a woman. Either way, there is a lot of fuss about gay people, straight people, marriage, and what is the right thing to do. Let’s look at this plainly, shall we?

First off, being gay is not a choice. It’s not a lifestyle. It’s the way that someone is born. We don’t choose our sex, height, eye color, hair color, or preferences. For example, I hate most vegetables. My mother loves a lot of vegetables. If she could have made me like them, she would have, but it doesn’t work that way. If I could, I would have also chosen to be just a little taller and to not have such a sweet tooth. Again, not a choice. Neither is sexual orientation. Think about the abuse that anyone who is gay has to endure. Sometimes it comes from their families, a lot comes from the world around them, their places of worship, and even from within. Why would someone choose to go through that on purpose??? It doesn’t make any sense to lose one’s family friends, church, even job in some cases, in order to put on a major farce. There are even identified genetic components to being gay so, again, not a choice.

On the other hand, a lifestyle is how one chooses to live their life. People are not born with a lifestyle, they choose it when they are adults. I say adult because children don’t choose how they are raised. They react to how they are brought up in different ways, good or bad, which can help color their choices later on, but does not set them in stone, nor does it make them gay or straight, promiscuous or monogamous. Both heterosexual and homosexual people can choose lifestyles that are promiscuous, self-destructive, or not; there is no “gay lifestyle”. Promiscuity in heterosexual men is even looked upon as being “manly”, complete bs, by the way, while women or gay men are condemned for it. Just one of many double standards that we have yet to erase from our culture. Self-destructive lifestyles are often indicative of deep, personal pain, so if you know someone, gay or straight, who seems hell-bent on dying young, you might want to try a deeper connection with them. You could save a life.

Speaking of lifestyle, I know several gay couples who are either married or in a long-term, committed, relationship. At least two of these couples have been together for around twenty years. They are like any other married couples who have been together a long time and are still in love: they tease, they have arguments, they know each other’s needs and wants, they balance each other out. Their “lifestyle” involves picking up milk on the way home from work and cleaning out the litter box. I can see my marriage reflected in their relationships. Now, more than any other time, I don’t understand why this is not okay.

I know that there are a lot of people who disagree with me, but I have come to my beliefs through observation, study, prayer, and communicating with other Christians. Christians are split on this issue. Those against gay marriage, or homosexuality in general, constantly quote the book of Leviticus, which condemns it, but they fail to also condemn those who eat shellfish, pork, or do any other litany of taboo things listed in that book. It’s interesting how they pick and choose. Some good books to read about that topic is A Year of Biblical Womanhood, by Rachel Held Evans or The Year of Living Biblically by AJ Jacobs. Both authors strive to follow the Old Testament rules and regulations as closely as possible in today’s modern society. While they’re both humorous, the authors have deep respect for the Bible, even if they don’t understand it all. And, really, who does understand it all? Learned scholars have debated about meanings of scripture for hundreds of years and the message of salvation is meant for everyone, not just scholars. Anyway, the point is, if one behavior is going to be condemned because of Leviticus, then you had better get ready to change your entire lifestyle. In other words, if you like lobster or bacon, you’re screwed. In the New Testament, where Jesus is the new law, there is much mention of sexual immorality, but nothing mentions homosexuality, even Jesus. Ever. To me, sexual immorality is the pedophile posing as a staunch church member and those who protect him, or a person who routinely cuts proverbial notches in his or her bedpost with no regard to the feelings of others, not a loving relationship between two adults.

My brother, a gay man who has been “out” for several years, has given me permission to use him as an example, so here’s his (shortened) story, through my eyes, of course.

As I’ve blogged about before, we were raised in very strict home, where my brothers’ father was almost fundamentally religious, at least while we were small. We were made very aware of what was a sin and what was not, to the point where I used to have nightmares about going to Hell because I somehow wasn’t saved enough. One of the lessons that we learned was that being gay was a sin, it was not natural and a choice against God’s law. I grew up, as did my brothers, thinking that anyone who happened to identify as gay was wrong in God’s eyes. Thankfully, when I began to get out into the real world, I began to meet people who were gay, began to know them as people who were looking for the very same things that any heterosexual person would be looking for: love and happiness. My perception changed, I began to see things in a different way that made sense. I still wasn’t secure enough to speak my beliefs aloud to people who disagreed, but the seed had been planted.

My brother had grown up in the same environment as I did. Homosexual was almost a dirty word in our house, something that was not discussed as anything serious. Can you imagine how he felt, knowing that he was different for all of those years, feeling that something must be wrong with him because of how he felt inside, something that he had no control over? I know that he was confused, that he suffered. I wish that he hadn’t had to feel that way.

He did all of the “normal” things that teenagers do, but he never really dated any girls. He did bring a girl to my wedding, but for the most part, girls were his friends, not his love interests. It was no surprise when he was in his early twenties, he called with a lunch invitation and said that there was something he wanted to tell me. I sat there waiting and he finally said, “What do you think it is?” I told him that he either knocked somebody up, he had secretly eloped, or he was gay. He realized I knew, with lots of nervous laughter. He had a right to be nervous, the family didn’t take it very well. Over time, he was sent to Christian counseling, the goal being to “fix” him. It didn’t work.

My brother is married now, he has been for a few years, ever since he went to Massachusetts where it is legal. He is secure in who he is and who he loves. He does not need to be fixed. Again and again, it has been proven that gay people cannot be made straight, thorough any therapies. There are scores of “cured” homosexuals who have recanted their stories later, saying that they tried, really they did, in an effort to be happy, to please their families, but it was all a lie; they could not change what was inside them and, despite extreme prayers and pleas, God didn’t change them, either. Gay people do not need to be fixed.

White people used to think (and some, appallingly, still do) that the color of one’s skin had everything to do with their intelligence and morality. Most sane people today know that to be blatantly false. Today, saying something to that effect would be so wrong, even criminal. I hope that the same wake-up call happens for people today, that they will realize that people are born a certain way: right-handed, left-handed, short, tall, gay, or straight. Is it really such a big deal?

Peace and prayer.

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