Monday, August 19, 2019

Grocery stores, kindness, and ink pens.....

Tonight I went to the grocery store.  <Please read that sentence with all the disdain you can possibly muster....> 

I HATE to grocery shop.  It drives me crazy.

First, there's the meal planning which usually involves finding a recipe.
Then there's going through the cabinets to see if you actually need everything on the list.
Then you go to the store, where people are rude, children are running around like they're on a sucrose IV drip.
You gather all of your crap in a basket, and then you wait in line for an eternity to give the cashier the monetary equivalent of one kidney.
You go out to the car pile all of your groceries into the trunk, try not to plow over the small children who are still running amuck but now in the parking lot.
You start down the road and
You forget something.....

This is exactly how my bi-weekly trip to the grocery trip was going, when I realized I forgot SLICED CHEESE! Now, for a minute I wagered exactly how much I needed the cheese.  And, I was having a complete conversation with myself that went a little like:

Self: "Do you need the cheese?  Like, really need the cheese?!"
Other Self: "Yes, we need the cheese!  How will we ever have a turkey sandwich without the cheese?!"
Self: "You're going to have to park the car."
Other Self: "So?!"
Self: "And walk!"
Other Self: "And?!"
Self: "Then you're going to have to locate the cheese, fight more children, and stand in line for 4 years, because you know there'll only be 2 checkout lanes open, at the most."
Other Self:  "We're pulling into the next grocery store.... This is serious shit. We need cheese!"

I walk into the grocery store, and I secure the things I need first:  cheese, enchilada sauce, cleaning supplies, and cookies for The Nurse's carry-in at work. Then I start stumbling around this large grocery store, 100% mesmerized by the fluorescent lights, and a bunch of stuff I don't really need, but want. 

And I fall down a rabbit hole.....

When I resurface, I am in the school supply section.  If you know me, you know I'm an analog whore and I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE all things school supply.

I was meandering about the isles when I found a great deal on Sharpie markers.  I thought to myself: "Don't really need them.  Throw them in the cart."
Then I found some Crayola Markers on sale.  I thought to myself:  "Don't really need them.  Throw them in the cart."
Then I spotted the piece de resistance!
Felt tip markers in 16 fun colors, with a price tag of $13.99, on sale from $19.99.  SCORE!  I can't bare to spend $19.99 on pens, but for $13.99?!  Like a one-night stand in a bar in my 20's:  Those are going. home. with. me. 

Satisfied with my selections, I happily skipped to the front of the store, sidle up to the self-check out, scan my felt tip pens and whomp... whomp... whomp...

They ring up as $19.99.

I'm crushed.  

Quickly, this kind employee comes over, asks what's wrong, I explain the pens were marked $6.00 cheaper than they were ringing up.  She called all her friends, they couldn't find the pens, and the lines were growing longer, so I asked her to just take the pens off my list of transactions.  My face must have shown my disappointment though, because she insisted on making a few more phone calls, to what appeared to be the only other person working in the store.  I apologized to the folks behind me, and explained I wasn't about to pay $19.99 for ink pens, when this young man came over, asked me what the problem was, and said: "Are the ink pens on your transaction list still?"  I told him yes, explained I was going to have her take them off as soon as she returned, muttered that I didn't really need them, and apologized for holding up the line.

Out of nowhere and with the stealth of a ninja, this young man pulls out a credit card, and swipes it before I even know what has happened!  At this point,  I'm trying to explain to him that he just spent $47.00 on me, but I'm speechless. I do somehow manage to again yammer I don't need the pens.  But all I can really do is cry, hug this angelic man in a hoodie, and thank him about a hundred times.

This was the kindest thing I've had happen to me since a friend gave me tickets to a Reba McIntire concert several years ago, and I was completely blown away by his kindness and generosity. He's restored my faith in humans, especially grocery-store humans, and I hope he knows just how much his gesture meant to me.  I will never forget him and what he did.  And the pens?!  They are everything I thought they would be....

Thank you kind man at the grocery store.
You complete me!

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Cheers to not quitting....

Monday I was feeling very down about my writing, to the point I'd decided to pack it up and quit. Just after I had quit,  I messaged a friend of mine to let her know how much I was enjoying her latest novel and after we chatted for a few moments I confessed I was going to quit writing because I felt like I wasn't good enough.  There was a series of messages back and forth and with some kind words, encouragement, and an offer to help read what I'd written thus far, I realized quitting wasn't really what I wanted to do.  Stepping back, I knew I was in my head and had fallen victim to the voices of self doubt.  

I guess we've all been there at some point....

Right after my friend talked me off the ledge, I flipped back over to my Facebook feed and saw a blogpost I'd written on the mass shooting in Dayton, Ohio had been shared by another friend of mine with the introduction of: " My friend is great with words.  Thank you for putting so many of my feelings into words!"

It was in that moment, I knew the universe was giving me my sign.  Keep pushing, sister.....
So here I am, on a Sunday morning, giving thanks to the incredible people in my life who remind me to look for the signs, to follow my dreams and to believe in myself.

Cheers to them!
And not quitting....

Sunday, August 11, 2019

We aren't okay in Dayton.....

Photo Credit: Unknown

A week ago, a 24 year old man, walked into the Oregon District in downtown Dayton with an automatic weapon, killing 9 people while injuring over 2 dozen others.  Our hearts are heavy and our city is reeling from the pain this man has caused.  

Friday after work, I decided to drive down to the Oregon District to visit one of my favorite stores, Heart Mercantile.  They were selling t-shirts to benefit the victims of the shootings, and I greatly wanted to donate.  Upon walking the street, the feelings of sadness, and the heaviness of the week was palatable on the folks in the area.  And after hearing the 3rd or 4th well-meaning person ask: "Are you okay?" to various people, I realized I was becoming upset, and my heart could not handle another minute.   

You could see by the looks on the faces, people wanted to be alright.  Folks desperately wanted to answer that question positively, however are any of us really "okay"?  

If I was to say I was "okay",  I would be saying I wasn't hurting for the parents, children, spouses and friends of the 9 people whose lives were ended because of this monster.  

If I was to say I was "okay", I would be saying I wasn't aching for my dear friend who was there that night, fearing for her life as she heard advancing gunshots grow louder and louder.  

If I was to say I was "okay", I would be saying I wasn't agonizing over a friend who will never hug her grandson again, or another friend who will never hear her brother's corny jokes again.

If I was to say I was "okay", I would essentially be saying I feel as if our country has no gun control issues.  

Lives were eternally changed last weekend.
Families will forever feel the absence.
Perceptions of safety and fun are now permanently altered.  
Our sense of security is currently marred.

We will eventually recover.
We will go on to heal.
We will ultimately survive.

But today, and into the unforeseeable future, it's perfectly acceptable to not "be okay".


Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Making a come back, and the hope at living....

She has gained 100# this month!

Several weeks ago, one of our previous horses trotted back into our lives, and would change how I look at re-homing horses forever. 

Mia was our first horse.  I purchased her for Katzya when Katzya was 10 years old.  Mia has always been the love of our lives and the gold standard in measuring the greatness of horses whom have come after her.  Mia is kind, quiet, and is as bombproof of a horse as you can get.  As years went by, and Katzya became a more advanced rider, she outgrew Mia in terms of riding ability, not because Mia didn't have the talent, but instead that at 25 years old she just didn't deserve the wear and tear on her body.  Because having horses is expensive, I decided we would find Mia a retirement home.  In my mind it was a waste of money to pay for a horse if we weren't using it, so  I looked for the perfect home for her. 

I really did this out of a place of love, and it had been said to me that this is how things normally go.  It's pretty common place for show people to retire and re-home their previous horses, so I thought I was doing the best thing for her when trying to find a place where she would only be ridden on occasion and could offer another family the opportunity at having a safe horse.  It was supposed to benefit everyone, man and beast. 

However I now know, I failed my horse.  I let down an animal who deserved so much better of me, and who gave me all she had to give, only to be put in a situation that is going to take a year at minimum to correct and that is IF it can be corrected.

The last month has been full of veterinarian and farrier appointments, a strict food re-introduction diet, and we still don't know what the future holds for her. 

I have promised Mia that she is home to stay for good.  If she leaves again, it will be because she has taken her last breath.  A friend who has given you the best years of her life, and whom you have trusted with your child's life, deserves that and so much more.

Friday, May 17, 2019

I asked God for a sign......

A year ago today would be the last time my Dad and I took a car ride together.

A year ago today, I picked my Dad up at 5 am to take him to the Cleveland Clinic for additional testing on his heart with the hope of preparing him for surgery to relieve the pressure in his head caused by AIDS dementia.  (I bloody hate both of those words....)

A year ago today, unbeknownst to me me, time was closing in, and to be honest I really struggled all day today.

So, tonight in order to clear my head, I decided to take Fenna on a walk downtown.  On the walk, I was crying and praying, and I said aloud:  "God, I need a sign.  Lord, I want the sign to be so obvious that there is no doubt.  I need to know my dad made it to Heaven, and that he's okay.  I would give anything to see him just one more time....."

As Fenna and I approached the Hotel Gallery downtown, I noticed it was "Open Mic" night.  I paused at the doorway for a bit to listen to a few artists perform, Fenna made herself comfortable at my feet, and we stood there on the stoop, watching the entertainment take place inside.  As I was getting ready to leave, I made eye contact with the owner, gave her a friendly wave and she motioned me to come inside.  I motioned there was a dog at my feet, yet she shrugged her shoulders and waved me in even harder.  Fenna and I quickly made our way into the Gallery, quickly sat at a table in the back, and were watching the artists perform, when I looked up and there was my Dad!

And I don't mean this man looked a little like my dad, I mean, I legitimately could not tell the difference between that man and my father.  It was as if, I was watching my dad on stage perform right before my very eyes.  As I sat there astonished, watching this man sing and play the guitar, it was as if the world stopped moving, and God gave me back my Dad for just a short while.  I left before the gentleman sang his last song, mainly because I didn't want it to ever end.  I couldn't bare to say goodbye, it would have felt like I was loosing my Dad all over again.

I hear this band will be back next week to play during "Open Mic" again.
Perhaps I will go back.
Who knows, perhaps I will become a "groupie"?!

To God and my Dad, I see what you two did here tonight.
Well played boys.
Well played...  

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Grow where you are planted....

One of my biggest heartaches after The Reluctant Farmer and I parted ways was that I sold my Urban Farm.  I not only lost the place that cultivated my heart, but in essence I lost my identity when I walked away from everything.  You see, my gardens weren't just a hobby.  They were a way of life.  They were who I was.  You don't sustain a family for 6-9 months of the year on the food you grow yourself and not put your entire heart and soul into it.  At some point it surpasses being just a hobby and becomes a piece of you.

Ever since The Nurse and I bought our new place, I have had visions of a new garden dancing through my head.  I measured, plotted, and planned like we were going into battle.  The only problem was, the area I had plotted in my head for a future garden was right smack dab in the center of my backyard, and after already loosing a portion of our yard for 8 months due to regrading and tiling our backyard,  I honestly just could not bear to loose anymore grass.

We have a narrow asphalt pad that runs next to our garage, so I thought about gardening in containers, but honestly it was almost an insult to where I had come from and what I was used to.

And then I had a vision......

Behind our garage was a 20ft X 20ft concrete basketball court.  We were going to tear it up eventually, but it was going to be a project in the way distant future.  The more I stared at that concrete square though, the more my vision came to fruition, and they next thing I knew, the first raised garden box was built, and then the second, and the third, and... and.... and...

I don't have nearly the space I had before, and I miss my chickens and meat rabbits, but it will come.  My goal is to work my garden this year, and possibly add some rabbits before winter.  I want to put food away, and say goodbye to the grocery store where I can.

This will be a year of learning though, because I have never planted on concrete, but grow where you are planted, right?!  Even if I don't eat anything from this garden, having dirt under my fingernails again has  returned me to a place I have missed terribly.  A place I thought I could forget, yet a place my heart demanded I return to.  God, am I grateful to cultivate again!


Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Being a Gay Christian in the United Methodist Church. What does it mean for us?!

Over the last few days, across my Facebook page, my news feed has been dominated by post after post regarding the 2019 General Conference of the United Methodist Church.  The United Methodist Church had been meeting this week to decide the future of the UMC and whether or not to uphold previous bans on gay clergy and same-sex weddings.  Today they decided to uphold the previous bans, and for a Christian-lesbian (Yes, you can be both...) it really hurt me for a minute, and I wasn't

The pain of the LGBTQ folks across the message boards has been so raw, and so real.  You can absolutely feel the pain, sadness and disappointment through the keyboard of the computer.  I've wanted to wrap my arms around so many of the hurt and struggling folks who were on these message boards, but it got me to thinking.....

The worst part of being gay for me has always come in the form of organized religion, and I found the church I attend now, when I was the securest I've ever been in my spiritual journey, but at my lowest point with organized religion.

I will never forget the first Sunday I attended church at Ginghamsburg United Methodist Church.  That day was over 9 years ago.  I rolled into that church expecting to be hated upon entering, but there was something magical happening in that place.  That Sunday, I sat in the 6th row from the front, on the end, just in case I was going to be beat with a Bible and needed a quick escape route.  I came into that church that morning, with a ninja-princess-warrior vibe, and a chip on my shoulder bigger than I had as a hormonal teenager.  I DARED God to try and convince me being in church was a good thing.  In fact, as I sat there in prayer, I sort of shrugged my shoulders, looked upward towards the Heavens, and said:  "You want me here?!  Prove you exist in these walls, because until now I have never felt you in a church.  I need a sign Lord that I can be a lesbian, a Christian, welcome in a church, and I need it to be blatantly obvious..."  (I like to keep my conversations with God super real.)

And then it happened.  This bald man, with skinny jeans and glasses walked out on the stage and started to preach.  I remember holding my breath.  It was as if this man was preaching directly to me.  I can't remember the exact sermon that day, but I can remember Pastor Mike Slaughter saying something like this: "People always want to know my views on homosexuality in this church, and I am going to say it again:  Everyone is welcome here.  Not everyone in this congregation will agree, but if we start looking at one person's sins, then we have to look at everyone's sins, and there is no one here who can say they haven't sinned.  If we single out homosexuality, we also have to single out those people who are divorced, all the way down to those people who have had speeding tickets.  I expect the homosexual members to abide by the same principles in which the heterosexual members do:  I expect them to be faithful in their marriages, tithe 10% and raise their children in the church."

So, I did, and these folks have become my family.  They are the wacky, weird, yet fun relatives that save you at boring holiday functions. Like family, we don't always get along.  We don't all have the same beliefs.  But we have traveled together, served together, laughed together, and cried together.  They have been seen me at my best and at my ugliest.  And therefore, as people are questioning where they are going after this ruling in the UMC, I have decided I am staying right where I have been.

I'm secure in my relationship with God, and my relationship with Him didn't change yesterday because of some ruling at a conference.  My faith is steadfast, He knows my heart, and despite whether a church acknowledges it or not, He made me in His image, exactly how He wanted me to be.  I go to church to enhance my spiritual walk, not for validation.  I serve, because as we all know we do greater things when we're in community, and I'm blessed that my church welcomes everyone.  If you are reading this post and you are struggling with the UMC ruling, I'm going to need you to get up, adjust your crown, and remember exactly whose child you are.  He didn't make you to hate you!

Now get out there and go be the hands and feet of Jesus.
God needs all of HIS children today more than ever.
Like seriously, get up and go right now!