Major Landmark Ahead – PRIDE! :)

•June 19, 2011 • 1 Comment

Today was a fabulous day. I mean truly. FABULOUS.

It was my first time at Pride!

Now, you may say, “Jen, didn’t you live in NYC?! How could this be your FIRST Pride?!”

RIGHT?!

When I was living in NYC, I always missed Pride due to conflicting travel. My friends always had great pictures and stories, which always left me jealous and sad that I had missed out.

Now here’s a shocker…

Naples doesn’t have Pride.

The closest I came to experiencing Pride in Florida was coincidentally being on Disney properties on Gay Day. Never in the Magic Kingdom, mind you, but in the general vicinity.

One of my favorite stories came out of one of those fateful Disney vacations. My sister’s ex mother in law, my mother and I were going to the store to pick up a few things when we all spotted a rainbow. The MIL then said, “Looks at God’s beautiful creation. It’s such a shame the gays had to take it and make it their symbol.”

WELL…

It took my mother .2 seconds to dart her eyes to the rearview mirror to gauge my imminent reaction of utter shock and insane anger. I didn’t say anything. I’m still kind of mad about that.

The story, however, I now find hysterical. Probably because so many of my very good gay friends get such a kick out of it.

I was VERY happy to see so many churches taking part in the parade. I have always struggled with Christians who spread hatred towards gay people. To me, Christianity has always boiled down to the Golden Rule. After all, it IS in the Bible: “All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye so to them; for this is the law and the prophets.” Matthew 7:1

The best signs that I saw today were carried by members of churches:

“Never place a period where God has placed a comma. God is still speaking.”

“Stop Spiritual Violence”

“God Loves Everyone” (YES, even though I struggle with my faith, I do know that God IS Love.)

“God Thinks You Are Fabulous” (hee)

and, my personal favorite…

“Jesus didn’t reject people. Neither do we.”

Today was easily the most fun day I’ve had since coming to Denver. It was happy, joyful, gleeful… dare I say, GAY. 🙂 So many beautiful people not afraid to be who they are and still many others coming out to support them. The emcee of the event, made a great speech which included the following quote:

“PRIDE. It’s not about the party. It’s not about showing your ass. It’s about being proud of who you are, whatever you are.”

Amen.

Advertisements

Hazard! – Rude Motorists

•June 1, 2011 • 2 Comments

Did that really just happen?

I was left speechless and a bit stung. Not surprised by any means, but wow. Really?

It’s funny how the actions of others can cast a shadow over an otherwise stellar day. It’s all in our reaction to these actions, however, which determine the continuation of happiness or the succumbing to feelings of anger, hostility, depression and hurt.

I was out somewhere recently and ran into an acquaintance whom I haven’t seen in quite a while. I’ve known this person, from a distance, for years. We’ve shared the ups and downs of our lives; she’s talked positively about Alexa. I never knew there to be any “beef” between us.

When we crossed paths, I smiled, BIG, and offered up a hearty “Hello!” Eye contact made. No smile back. No words. Not only was there no acknowledgement of my greeting, but she BLEW RIGHT PAST ME.

W.T.F.

I felt like a motorist who let someone into traffic and still got the finger.

Yes it was a busy situation. The thing is, this is the SECOND time this person has done this to me.

Fool me once, shame on you…

Like I said, I really wasn’t that surprised, but it does really haunt me. I like to think of myself as a very positive person towards others. Maybe not always to myself, as you all are most likely well aware by now, but to others? Absolutely. I won’t toot my own horn on kindness but with me, it is there for the taking.

Above all I RESPECT others. The only way to earn respect is to show it. No matter who they are, where they come from, what they have or what they do, people are people. They deserve time, attention and care. Sometimes you never truly know who someone really is or who they may become.

PLUS

No one person is ever more important than anyone else.

I may not always have change for a homeless person who is all up in my face demanding it, but if that same panhandler simply smiled and said hello, I would give them the common decency of returning their greeting.

Never mind a person I thought to be a friend…

Always remember, a smile and kind word could mean the world to a person.

Practice kindness

OR

at the very least

a little human decency.

Pothole! – Keeping up with the Joneses…

•May 26, 2011 • 2 Comments

Ok, so here’s the thing.

I’m a shopper. OK, truth time… a shopaholic. With depression ever a breath away, retail therapy has always been comparable to a good friend and confidant. Ever a clotheshorse, I can rarely bear to get rid of clothes that still fit and are passable fashion statements. (7th grade Daisy Dukes… yeah, still got ’em.)

HOWEVER…

I am a strict bargain hunter… a clearance rack scraper. If I do manage to get my hands on something name brand, it’s at a completely discounted price. I have very rarely paid full price for anything, save food or warranted medical procedures. (Relax, no plastic surgery here. It’s not in the budget!)

As a kid, most of my friends were rich. Almost all of them owned at least one horse. My parents, working class folk, had to scrape by to provide the essentials for three growing children. At times, my mom held no less than 4 odd jobs. Even so, they did everything they could to make sure that we never felt looked down on or made fun of. In 5th grade, I can remember begging for a white Guess? jean jacket that cost $60. That was a LOT of money.

Mom found a way to make it happen.

I still own that jacket to this day. I can’t let go of it because of what it means and stands for.

Some fashion trends, see plastic charm necklaces and double socks, never made it past mom inspection, “No matter how cool it looks.” Even though we may not have always been on the high end of the fashion scale, my siblings and I were always sent to school looking neat, clean and put together.

Besides… guess who was deemed “Best Dressed” in the fourth grade?

In my hot pink and black spotted suspender jumper outfit and everything.

Yes, I still hang on to and tout that title at most any opportunity I can sneak it in. 😉

Living in New York, it was tough to keep up with city fashion plates. I didn’t like the bland “standard” black look. Never being afraid to stand out, I did wear a lot of color and kept it, well, interesting. Maybe not Brooklyn interesting, but my own form of cheap, chic fashion interesting.

When I returned to university as an almost 30 something, I hit a big low in finances. Gone were the days of my full time corporate job. Hello student loans! I worked a glorified college student job as a dance instructor. Though I had a VERY high hourly wage, sometimes I was only scheduled 10 or so hours a week. I scaled back a lot in those days and managed to scrape by by living at home. *gasp*

A particularly rough patch came along when I started to date again. I met someone who was self-made and very financially responsible. Well, minus the cars and toys. 😉 At the same time, I started my unpaid internships, which plummeted my work hours to maybe 4 a WEEK. I amped up the students loans and started breaking out the credit cards.

Dating someone with money is not as easy as one would imagine. Of course, maybe that was just for me.

Always proud and very stubborn, I am not one to ever ask for anything. Even at my worst, I have never asked anyone, even family, for help. It’s not my nature. I don’t like being “helped.” Plus, who wants to be known as a gold digger? That’s just deplorable in my book.

Anyway, being with someone who drives a fancy car and lives a certain lifestyle lends itself to massive pressure. Pressure to look perfect, sound perfect, BE perfect. Yes, most of my clothes at the time came from Old Navy. I tried my very best to turn them into something more, but sometimes there’s only so much you can do. I wanted so very hard to be the perfect partner, to keep up with the trips and the expectations.

So, I dug myself into an $8,000 credit hole.

I once knew this girl who had $10,000 in credit card debt. My mother and I chalked it up to irresponsible spending. I couldn’t imagine how she could have ever gotten THAT behind. Now, I was starting to realize the same pain… and embarrassment.

I was mortified. I was always the responsible one. I was the one who tried to keep everyone else on track. Now, here I was, living at home and with a stable partner, and still DROWNING in debt.

The thing is, when you love someone, you will often do anything to make him/her realize that you are the one they are looking for. The one they find acceptable as a life partner. You want to be perfect so as not to be thrown away. I was already fighting a losing battle with my choice to become a teacher, complete with crappy salary and mega emotional drainage. I felt like the only way to still appear “worthy” was to prove that I could keep up… sinking myself even further.

Fortunately, I got a full time teaching job upon graduation. In a crazy competitive, school budget cut environment, this was an extremely lucky situation. Splitting my time living at home and for minimal rent with a fabulous sister-like roommate allowed me to pay off the credit card debt completely in a few short months.

The relationship? Gone. Tough? Absolutely. There were definite, painful feelings of not being enough, even after all that spending. There also was a lot of anger for being that stupid to foolishly spend in order to try to be enough.

Now?

Well, the living situation last year, during that first year of teaching, allowed me to actually SAVE up almost as much as I had incurred in debt the previous year. I planned to move to Los Angeles to follow my dream… and to get away from the heartache. I made it halfway, to Colorado, with my sister and niece. I planned to only stay a month and a half. I got cast in a show. I stayed. Not working for six months with bills still coming in the mail certainly takes a toll on savings…

So, I’m back to barely scraping by. I’ve got a bit of debt again, but nowhere near the insanity I allowed myself before. Not being able to find work here was really tough. I don’t mean to brag, but I have a GREAT resume. In this economy however, it rarely seems enough. Some companies refuse to hire you if you are overqualified, but a job is a job. I was looking for anything.

Fate lead me to a great job as a Lego Engineering Instructor. Part time is nowhere near ideal, but I haven’t LOVED my job in a very long time. Now, I am putting in extra (unpaid) time and effort to try and develop new strategies for international corporate expansion. Summer will lead me into full time camp hours, but come fall, I hope to make a big change. The money won’t come for a LONG time, but hopefully I will find a way to get by at first in order to make it out on top in the long run.

This will most surely mean loans, which means it is back to university I go! Provided I get accepted, that is.

I will never let myself be a person who needs to be taken care of. It’s not in my nature. I’m not so fussed about finding a partner, though loneliness loudly knocks at the doorway to depression; I have pretty much given up on anyone accepting me, and wanting to be with me, as I am. I am, however, fussed about being a good mother. My only hope is that I can get to a point, hopefully sooner rather than later, where I can effectively take care of myself and my future child.

And still buy her a white Guess? jean jacket.

Alternate Route – Family doesn’t have to be strictly relative…

•May 24, 2011 • 1 Comment

It’s true! Family doesn’t have to just be who you are stuck with through birthright and bloodlines. (Though some of us on this earth ARE lucky enough to be “stuck” with great branches on the old tree!)

I’ve always been a person with a very big and open heart. It often leads me into certain times of trouble and definitely makes getting hurt much easier and many times inevitable. I all too easily embrace people, good, bad and indifferent, search for their strengths and allow them space in my life. If they mess that up, through awful words and terrible actions, I still end up hurting because I feel that I mistakenly trusted and allowed them in.

It is very easy to break my heart.

The tradeoff to all of this is the opposite end of the stick, if you will. Finding those GOOD people and allowing them in, despite social failures of the past, is a skill that comes naturally. Sure, it is risky, but when the good is found, it changes me, my feelings, my environment and, of course, my happiness.

I have had additional families for most of my adult life. It never meant that I didn’t love my own nuclear family. Instead, it enhanced my life by providing me alternate answers, ideas and paths. Sometimes family isn’t always objective due to their intense love, protective feelings and sometimes conflicting ideals. Non-judgemental sounding boards can provide a deeper sense of clarity into personal issues and struggles.

I’ve been lucky enough to connect with people over many diverse things. I have television fandom friends, which may sound nerdy (and indeed is), who provide fun times not only recollecting favorite storylines and performers but who also choose to share their “real” lives as well. Oh the vacations with strangers I have had! (Did I just hear a gasp from across the country? No worries Nanny…) 🙂 Those “strangers” I have often talked to for YEARS before meeting at an event or out on the town… minus that crazy trip to Vancouver. 😉

I’ve also built strong relationships through other relationships. I have met friends through other friends. Sometimes that secondary friendship has become stronger than the first. I have created strong bonds with family members of ex’s. Yes, this is not ideal and can create a mess all on its own, but I wouldn’t trade my sisters for anything.

I have found friendship in the midst of tragedy. It is funny how relationships can quickly blossom and flourish out of devastation. Common suffering can indeed bring people together; often more strongly than anything else.

Love will always find a way to overcome.

Today, the song “For Good” from the musical Wicked was broadcast on television twice. Almost immediately after the first, I received a knock on the door from a UPS guy bearing an unexpected gift box from my chosen sisters with a note that they were thinking of me. Impeccable timing. It really got me thinking about how lucky I am to have good people in my life. Sure, the bad ones can get us down… EASILY, but never forget the good ones.

Like the song says:

“Because I knew you, I have been changed for good.”

Recalculating… Finding a new route

•May 19, 2011 • 1 Comment

I’m kinda weird.

I actually LIKE change.

In fact, I live for it.

I get antsy if I stay in one place too long. I have often joked that I am a recruiter’s worst nightmare because my resume, though extremely varied and fun, yet professional, is just that… varied. I don’t like to think of myself as a run of the mill “job hopper.”

I just know when I’m happy and when I’m not.

I will find a way to rediscover joy and happiness at all costs; if that means moving on, I do it without question.

Often, I have found that places hold vivid memories. Of course so do songs and smells. It’s much easier to avoid listening to certain CDs or quickly spinning the radio dial as well as discontinuing the use of an associative perfume than to change a living location situation.

But me? Well, I never do anything the easy way. Life’s not worth living if there’s not a certain degree of difficulty, as maddening as that may be.

Some people call it running away.

I call it survival.

There is nothing here in my current location painful enough to make me want to flee. Then again, there’s nothing here. Of course I have family, which is a big reason all on its own, but there has to be a time when I start living for me and finding a place where I will be happy. I am not finding the things I need in my life to be happy here.

So, it’s time for a change.

I’m currently working on a crazy master plan that, if it indeed works, will open new doors beyond what I had previously imagined possible.

I’ve sent some pieces out into the universe. One, only possible through TIME and LOTS of hard work, is being supported by the greatest of allies. It really helps to hear that someone is behind you and will help you with whatever you may need, but is even greater to feel believed in. Two… well that’s up to a selection committee. The twist is, I need the funding of two to make one possible. Nothing like a challenge!!!

Then there’s three, but that’s a whole different story. Would love to share this journey…

FINGERS CROSSED.

It’s easier to be alone…

•May 19, 2011 • Leave a Comment

There’s a reason I said I’d be happy alone.

It wasn’t cause I thought I’d be happy alone. It was because I thought if I loved someone and then it fell apart, I might not make it.

It’s easier to be alone. Because what if you learn you need love and then you don’t have it? What if you like it and lean on it?

What if you shape your life around it, and then it falls apart?

Can we even survive that kind of pain?

Losing love is like organ damage.

It’s like dying.

The only difference is death ends.

This?

It could go on forever.

Grey’s Anatomy – S 7 E 22 – “Unaccompanied Minor”


Happy List! – May 16, 2011

•May 16, 2011 • 1 Comment

Things that make me happy… RIGHT NOW!

Alexa and Max

*Please click above to watch. Embedding is disabled at this time.*

As a former educator of profound mentally handicapped students, I know how much it means to give differently abled children a sense of belonging. Alexa has never been sheltered from the reality of these children being in school, hearing my stories and seeing my pictures, from the time she was 3 years old; it is one thing to hear about it but another to actually live it.

What has completely and utterly warmed my heart, and has shamefully surprised me, is the sheer exuberance she has towards Max being a part of her class. Alexa has never been one to pick on others, in fact, it has always been the opposite. Much like her aunt, she has a very strong mothering instinct. However, general education kids can be cruel, so naturally, I have asked her questions many times over about how both she and the other kids treat Max. I’ve also told her, right from the beginning, how important it is to treat him like everyone else and to MOST IMPORTANTLY be his friend.

She has never let me down.

In fact, she has filled me with pride to the point of bursting.

Take time to reach out to others who are different, and keep thinking of the things that make YOU smile! 🙂

~Jen

Alexa ROCKS. 🙂