We all live on this planet, damnit!

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One of my New Year resolutions is to simply write more. I frequently write in my personal journal — but I’d like to share my thoughts more publicly this year.

To start off — I’d like to say that I feel I have always tried to be inclusive. When I was a pre-teen, I lived in an apartment complex where I socialized with all my neighbor friends, despite their background. I was far more concerned about whether or not my friends would climb trees with me and play night games than what church they went to (or didn’t).

I sometimes look around me when I’m in a busy place and take a moment to soak in the people that surround me. I have this realization that these strangers have lives. They have families and friends. They experience joy and they’ve endured pain. They have jobs. They have burdens. They have memories. They have troubles. They have happiness. And it really hits me. It’s a really surreal moment of remembering that I’m such a small part of this world. And it truly humbles me.

This past year I’ve reflected on several things, but what always has me constantly investing my heart into is my humanity. I think about changing future strangers’ lives as a Social Worker. I think about helping someone less fortunate than myself when I can finally get to a place where I’m not living paycheck to paycheck. Even now, when I barely make ends meet each month — I still think about helping people. Because I know there is always someone less fortunate than me — even when I feel lonely, poor, or depressed.

Something that I’ve thought a lot about this past year –with the emphasis of Trump building a Wall on the US and Mexico boarder — usually has me cringing  –is the word “illegal” when referencing a human being. We use it to describe people who are undocumented in a country. As if they as a person — by living and breathing in a country where they are not citizens in — are illegal. They are wrong. They are criminal. They are not allowed. They must be shamed. They must be kicked out. They are a menace to society. They are rapists. They are deviants. They are harmful.

It destroys my heart  to hear such hateful descriptions of HUMAN BEINGS.  People are not illegal. Somewhere down the line someone decided the law of boundaries. And they decided to create regulations that was intended to control population — or some other lousy excuse. But really a politically correct way of banning people from parts of the world. A world that we ultimately share. And there is only ONE WORLD. We all live on this planet, damnit! And we should embrace our global citizenship and stop labeling people foreign, or alien — or illegal. It’s like a bully on the playground not allowing certain kids to play on the toys. It’s cruel. And unfair.

People who fear “illegals” have never looked outside their own peripheral vision to see the beautiful things that we can learn from strangers. From people who were born in different countries than our own. From people who have struggled. And from people who only want to be free.

Pharrell Williams recently said on Ellen that “We all have to get used to everyone’s differences. And understand that this is a big, gigantic, beautiful, colorful world. And it only works with inclusion and empathy. It only works that way.”

I truly admired his courage to say these things out loud, and use his platform to spread kindness and understanding. I feel the same way. I don’t always agree with people — but I value everyone’s opinions — because without them, this world wouldn’t struggle or hustle or work hard enough for what’s right — and what’s good.

WE are all human. WE should practice more this year extending our humanity to a world that needs a lot of healing.

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Domestic Violence: We accept the love we think we deserve

There’s something about being hurt that makes us a little harder. A little bitter. A little prouder. And a lot less willing to accept help when we need it the most.

Working in the hospitality field I’ve seen many people come in under circumstances dealing with domestic violence. I’m always a little more sensitive when someone informs me of a not-so-good situation going on at home. If ever I see a license with an address in the same town where I work, I often don’t ask the question of what brings them here. Because when I do, I usually get the blunt truth of someone dealing with domestic violence, silence, or an abundance of tears.

I’m not afraid to talk about domestic violence. I only avoid it to cause less stress or humiliation or obligation for someone who is faced with it. I’m a stranger to them. A nice stranger. But a stranger nonetheless. And who am I to intervene? Who am I to ask questions? Or be anything but someone who helps them escape, if only for a little while.

But today was different. A women came in with the biggest frown I’ve ever seen and I could tell right away whatever she was about to say was not good. I suspected she was unhappy and was quite possibly ready to complain about her stay or something along those lines. But instead, she asked for the cheapest room. I informed her of our prices and she was eager to get a room. At this time of the day it’s not quite 9 AM. We had an almost full house the night before. I inform her that check in time is around 3 PM and she can certainly make a reservation and come back once we can confirm a clean room for her.

She then gets irritated and informs me that she is dealing with a domestic violence issue and she can’t very well live in her car. I apologize automatically. It’s never fun to hear when someone is in between a rock and a hard place.

Our policy is to charge a full day charge on top of the nightly charge if ever someone wants to check in before 11 AM. We rarely have those kinds of people, but when we do, we have to stick to those rates. I informed her of our policy.

She said, “Are you kidding me? I’ll just go live in my car.” I said I could possibly talk to my manager, and she said “Oh yeah, how long will that take?” She started to storm off and I mentioned CAPSA. It’s a shelter in town for women in her position. She gasped and said, “I’m not pathetic”, and proceeded to slam her car door and race away.

I clearly offended her. But that encounter left me confused and shaken up. I was doing my best to abide by my policies and extend to her services that might work in her favor. If she had stuck around a little longer I could have called my manager about her situation and possibly worked something out; however, she left me little to no room to extend my hand.

I know it’s not my job to help people who don’t want to help themselves. I know she was looking for a way out, and I applaud her for that. I know she was dealing with stresses I have no idea about. I know she needed help. But I’m not sure she wanted it. Maybe I shouldn’t make assumptions. And I’m certain that psychology has a lot to say with how she reacted to the whole situation. I’m certain that it’s much deeper than I realize. But in that moment, I couldn’t help but feel sad and angry at the same time.

I wanted to help her, that I’m sure. But she broke my spirit slightly, because she rejected it. And I don’t know very many people in that situation who would easily walk away from the help they so desperately need. And maybe I’m in the wrong here to try and analyze such a heavy matter.

I don’t consider her rude. In any other situation her actions would appear that way. And I’m not going to lose sleep over this, but I can’t help but think she’ll go back to the way things were because she see’s domestic violence shelters for people who are “pathetic” when in reality I see them as places where the strongest people reside.

This post is not to demean anyone in a domestic violence situation. It is to bring awareness to those who are afraid to reach out to shelters, because they see them as “pathetic” or for the helpless, or weak. They are the complete opposite. They are there to lift people up after they have been broken down for so long. And it is to help them see a healthy perspective again. And they are there to protect and provide for people who are in desperate need. Or just seeking to find peace of mind.

I’m not sure I could have done anything different for this particular person, but I will always remain an advocate for those suffering with domestic abuse, psychological abuse, sexual abuse, etc. And I will always extend a hand out to them. But ultimately it’s up to them to take my hand. And that’s the hardest part.

If you or someone you know is dealing with any kind of abuse, I encourage you to seek and accept help. It’s out there. I promise you, you’re not alone.

NATIONAL DOMESTIC ABUSE HOTLINE: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233

NATIONAL SEXUAL ASSAULT HOTLINE: 1-800-656-HOPE (4673)

 

 

The Last Thanksgiving.

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This past Thanksgiving (2013) I was uncertain of where I would go. My immediate family lives hours away from me. And so I was very blessed to be invited to the Parrish Clubhouse for Thanksgiving dinner by my dear friend Janae.

A week before that, I had attended Sunday dinner at the Clubhouse. It is a weekly event that brings the Parrish and Curtis family together on Parrish Lane.

In the back of my mind, I couldn’t help but picture my future family…and I wanted something like the Clubhouse Sunday dinners. It was real. And it was full of family. And love. Everyone got together to play with their cousins, and chat about their lives, and update everyone about their children on missions.

It was such a blessing to be surrounded by such love on Thanksgiving.

There was plenty of Turkey. And tons of laughter. And sweetness that I never knew before.

After all the chaos of cooking, we finally sat down to eat. And Bill Parrish said a prayer that made me feel like a blanket of protection was over us. And I felt such peace and sincerity come from his kind words.

And then we took the time to go around and say what we were Thankful for. It took us about an hour, but I know we were all glad we did it, because I believe it brought everyone closer.

I felt such peace and love come from each member of the family. Everyone was so open and eager to share how thankful they were for their family. Even the littlest of kids expressed their love for each other. For their trials. For God. And for the blessings of the Gospel.

And then it was my turn. And I wasn’t hesitant to speak, because I felt so welcomed and loved. And even though I am not biologically apart of that family, I felt connected in a way I have never felt with my own relatives. It was such a magical feeling. And I cried, because I was overjoyed and thankful to no end.

And throughout the day, Ross Parrish made a special effort to talk with me and was genuinely interested in what I was doing and how my family was doing. She always welcomed me with a bright smile.

Of all the kids that were at the get-together, Keegan Parrish was the first to greet me and chat with me. He had such an awesome spirit and funny sense of humor. He was so mature from what I gathered. And he had such love for his family.

( http://www.ktvb.com/news/Four-members-of-Pocatello-family-found-dead-in-home-246903901.html )
^media link to story.

And so to learn about Bill & Ross Parrish’s family tragedy, makes me feel broken inside. Their lives ended too short and so sudden. I want to reach out to everyone and hug them. I want to go back to that Last Thanksgiving and pause time. Because my heart aches for their families, knowing they will never be in their presence again on this earth. And I am confused. And I question WHY? Like so many do when death creeps in the middle of the night.

I never thought last Thanksgiving would be the last time I would see them.

I am overwhelmed.

And I know how it feels to lose somebody so close.

My heart goes out to Jensen and Ian Parrish. They are what is left and I wish them strength to get through these next unbearable days until they reach home to say their goodbyes. And pray for them to understand and to grieve and to continue on their journey. And to stay close to God.

I want to be able to offer words of wisdom or strength. But all I feel I can do is offer silence and prayer. And hope for peace.

God bless everyone effected by this sudden misfortune. Always remember to say ‘I Love You’ because you never know what tomorrow brings.

And God be with Us ‘Til We Meet Again.

The ninth year.

It was 9 years ago today that my mother died. (Feb. 20)

I find it difficult to picture life nine years ago.

I was a stubborn bossy drama queen. That is, until the universe threw me a curve ball, and I was 10 years older with a mind of worry and panic attacks every hour on the hour watching time slip away from my just as stubborn mother.

I became humbled. I counted every second. I made each moment count. And I lived like I was dying. Because I thought I was.

I never thought possible that this part of my life would ever come. There was a time where I honestly believed I wouldn’t make it this far. I remember begging my mother to stay on this earth, as if she had magical powers that could erase the toxic blood cells from her veins and triple her platelet count, but alas…she had no control. And I was convinced I couldn’t survive without her.

But here I am, doing much more than just surviving, I’m…living.

I’m experiencing life the way I think she would have wanted me to. With pain and heartache. With joy and laughter. With moments of loneliness and moments with genuine company. With loudness and softness. With sadness and happiness. With tears and smiles. With surprises. And with the lessons I’ve learned a few times over because the third time is a charm. With incredible life changing moments that humble me. And moments where I feel so proud I could burst. With life. And with death. And with knowledge to make good choices. And knowledge to realize the bad. To experience it all. To crash and fall. To get back up and try try try again. To love. To serve. And to make people laugh, because I get that from her. And she’d be horrified if I didn’t share my sense of humor. To remember who I am and where I come from. And to start again, when I’ve made a mess bigger than Everest. To forgive. And to let go. And to live much more than the day before.

If the loss of my mother has taught me anything, it is: To not take life for granted.

I’ve come to understand things a little differently with a new perspective over the past 9 years because of this loss.

Death does not have to define us. But it certainly shapes us. And I’m thankful for the path it has taken me on. I wouldn’t want to be anyone else.

 

Thanks mom, for hanging in there for as long as you could.

 

Party Person.

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Okay. So I consider myself an open minded person. So on my Facebook page I’ve liked the pages of pretty much any and all parties that are established in the United States. So there’s the Democrats and Republicans. And Independents and Libertarians. I guess you could call me a ‘Party Person’ haha. Anyway. I really enjoy seeing the random posts, achievements of each parties, what they believe in and all the hilarious and not so hilarious meme’s they post.  But I like to keep updated so I like all the pages to stay informed.

Basically, I get far more annoyed with the conservative posts than I do with the liberals, because…yes, I’m a liberal. And I’m most likely going to agree with the liberal posts. But today was different.

I was soaking up all the Republican posts. But the screen shot above shows exactly why I was ecstatic with the Republican Facebook page today. Points for Republicans! Yay! haha.

I really enjoyed reading what people had to say. I’m assuming most who commented are conservatives. But that doesn’t mean they are bigots who hate gays. And I hate that assumption. I dislike that society accepts the idea that certain parties are associated to certain stereotypes. Sure. Due to politicians who claim one party or the other, and are for or against something, that somehow automatically makes the entire party associated with that belief.

And that’s not always true. And it doesn’t have to be. And even though these comments were simple, they make me smile and remind me that this world isn’t as cruel as people like to make it out to be.

I especially like what the Republican page responded with. Very clever indeed.

Two dads is better than none.

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Can we all please take a step back and realize that the definition of “family” no longer fits the perfect Dad, Mom, Brother, Sister, Dog, Cat model anymore? I mean, did it really ever?

Using the argument that a child needs a mom AND a dad or vise versa is getting old to say the least.

Yes. Biologically it takes a penis and a vagina to create a child.

But I think that we can all agree that it takes much more than that to build a FAMILY.

It takes shelter, and food, and clothes…

But above all. It takes unconditional LOVE.

Coming from my perspective and insider on having a gay parent, I think I’m a little more than qualified to state that I was raised by a single parent and I turned out just fine. Or I’d like to believe I did. I mean, the research that is being thrown around about kids who aren’t raised by a MOTHER and a FATHER become more troubled than not is just a load of crap. For the most part.

I was far more stable after my mother died. Being tossed around every other weekend back and forth to my parents did more damage to me than staying in one home with one parent. I’d rather argue that divorce is worse than anything else out there when it comes to the stability of a child.

Stability. That’s all I needed. And that’s what I got with my dad. I may have viewed him as a single parent, simply because he couldn’t marry his boyfriend – but he wasn’t single. He had the help of many. He had the help from his boyfriend. From his siblings. From his mother. You name it. The support of others around him helped raise me. We weren’t alone. I no longer had the influence from my mother any longer. It was out of our control after she died. But we made the best of our situation. And my father raised me. I don’t remember my childhood with my mother as vividly as I remember the lessons my father taught me. So I owe it mainly to my father for raising me and teaching me things about life.

Like many families in this world, they aren’t the cookie cutter kinds. Mothers leave their new babies in dumpsters. Teenagers have babies themselves and give them up for adoption. Husbands beat their wives and molest their children.

THAT’S the problem.

It can take seconds for a girl to get pregnant and yet many take that job for granted.

But it takes months, even years for couples to adopt. Couples who have thought long and hard about having a child. Couples who plan to have a child unlike so many woman who have a one night stand and the condom broke. So that’s where adoption comes it. But why make it so complicated? So many couples, and sometimes even singles people want children. And this includes gay couples. And they are prepared. And ready to have children. So what is the big freaking deal? If the best interest is for the child, than why ever deny them a happy, healthy, loving home? Whether that includes a grandmother ready to step up to the plate, or an uncle and aunt, or two men, or two women?

That child will be loved. Because I highly doubt somebody would spend thousands of dollars and invest so much time in adopting a child if their intentions weren’t anything but good.

So for those of you who believe that gay couples are flawed and aren’t fit to be parents or can’t provide everything a child needs, than think again. They aren’t going to be perfect. But  they have to go through hell to even get qualified. Same goes for straight couples. It’s a battle. So I applaud all the people who adopt or attempt to do so. That takes a big heart and a ton of patience.

There are plenty of straight couples who provide a happy, healthy and loving home. And that’s wonderful. But not everyone is as fortunate to be raised by their biological mother and father.

But every couple, or person raising a child is going to have their ups and downs. Especially for a brand new parent. They are going to find the best ways to do certain things for their child. Because that’s what people do when they take on such a big responsibility. Or at least that’s what we’d like to see.

And I’m not one who believes it has to be ONE way or the highway. I believe that a family is what you make it to be. It’s a mom. Or it’s a dad. Or it’s both. Or it’s daddy 1 and daddy 2. Or mommy 1 and mommy 2. Or it’s grandma and grandpa. Or it’s uncle and aunt. Or it’s brother or sister.

So just because you were raised by your awesome mother and father. Doesn’t mean you should deny any other definition of a family for others.

My father had to step up to both roles at times. He taught me about sex, drugs and alcohol. He taught me about the menstrual cycle. He taught me about hygiene. He taught me about self respect. He talked to me about boys. He taught me about how to change the oil. How to change a tire. How to build a fence. How to serve others. How to respect others. How to love unconditionally.

So no. I wouldn’t trade my life for anything. I don’t ever wish my life went differently. Sure. Sometimes I think about what it would be like to have a mother physically with me. But then I wouldn’t have the outstanding gay father that I do have.

And I think that children grow up to be thankful for what they do have. Eventually we all see the bigger picture and are truly thankful for the love and support we have in our lives. I don’t think we are going to care one way or the other if that support comes from MOM & DAD or if it comes from MOM & MOM/ DAD & DAD etc.

Thanks for hearing me out.

I’m here.

The whisper of the wind faintly reminded me that I wasn’t alone. I was standing in what felt like a winter waste land, but with headstones peeping up at least 2 acres around me. I never felt colder in my life, and yet I felt the warmth of the sun on my cheeks allowing me to stand outside a little longer.

And there she was. Standing no more than 20 feet away. I could hardly believe my eyes. She was standing perfect still in a royal green dress that swayed back and forth across her ankles. Her sleeves passed the tips of her fingers as if it were a waterfall flowing from her arms, or maybe that’s just the style.

But she was there. And my voice was shattered. I could barely form Hello.

I have never seen her glow so loud before. She was elequent in every way. Her hair was fixed and swirled with the dirty blonde highlights bouncing around. It’s as if she hadn’t aged since I last saw her. Why would she?

She’s suppose to be six feet down, I thought. 

And then she spoke, softly. 

I’m here. 

She was more like 10 feet away now. Approaching me slowly, to not scare me.

Here I am. Almost 21 years old. I haven’t spoken to her since I was 12. My whole world has changed. And she wasn’t there for any of it. So what am I suppose to say? I’m an adult now. And she doesn’t look a day past 36.

We could be friends,I thought.

But she’s my mother. And I want to squeeze her. And tell her I love her. And wish that things could stay like this forever. And she could braid my hair, life before. And she could help me with my homework. And she could drive me places. And we could go shopping. And she could tell me all about her teenage years. And tell me all the things she never did, but I wish she would have.

And then I realize, I don’t want any of that. Because I’d rather just be with her.

But it’s not real. And suddenly I’m alone. And I rub my eyes, because my contacts fooled me. And I’m in focus again. And the only thing left is her tombstone.

But her voice lingers. I’m here.

And I know, she’s here. Even if I can’t hear her. Or see her. Or touch her. She’s here. Because she could never really leave me. And so I believe she has all the front row seats to all my big life events. And she knows what’s going on in my life. And she’s going to help me through. By reminding me that I’ve grown into a strong, loving, caring human being. And that she’s here. Always.

[that was about a recent dream I had, it was unbelievably vivid. my mother was seriously so beautiful and I could make her out so clearly as if I saw her yesterday in the flesh. it was so magical. and i think it was a message to remind me that i’m not alone. even when i feel so utterly alone. she’s there. thanks mom. i love you.]