Rule follower…

I am a rule follower. Always have been. I’m pretty sure my parents never worried about taking me places with them because they knew I would behave. My dad reads most of my posts so dad feel free to call me out if that’s not true (smile). I’m not saying that I was perfect, but I truly did care about following the rules.

I get very uncomfortable if people talk about bending the rules or breaking a rule. A couple of years ago, I went to the movies with some friends. It was in the middle of the day and it was at one of those fancy movie theaters with the really nice seats that recline. You knew where to sit by the number on your ticket stub (they were assigned unlike other theaters where you can sit wherever you like). When we got into the theater, it was completely empty. So…my friends decided to sit wherever they wanted. I was reluctant because, after all, I was given a ticket that told me where I was supposed to sit. They held up their arms and said, “Who is going to care?” I reluctantly gave in and sat with them…in our non-assigned seats. The movie was about to start when one more person came into the theater. ONE. And guess who they walked up to and said, “You’re in my seat.” ME! I was mortified. See…THIS is why I follow the rules!

We have laws (really serious rules) that we all have to follow as citizens. Things like paying our share of taxes, taking care of our environment by not littering, waiting until we are of age to drink, etc. A lot of these laws are in place to protect us. Things like wearing our seatbelts when driving and following the speed limit. There are laws that we follow to protect our fellow citizens like not stealing from them or harming them in any way (this of course also protects us if they follow the law as well).

Part of growing up is learning the rules. There are rules in school, rules in your family, and rules in sports that you play. Just watch a referee make a bad call and see how important the rules are to fans (Super Bowl anyone). When you start making friends, you learn that their families have their own rules as well. I remember being in middle school and having dinner at my best friend’s house for the first time. In their family, her father was served first. Everyone waited until her dad had his plate before they dished out food onto theirs. This was totally foreign to me as we did not do that in my house. When we had dinner, you were allowed to fix your plate any time. I had many dinners at that friend’s house and I respectfully waited until her dad had his food because that was their rule.

I’m still seeing a lot of “chatter” online about a bill that was passed back on December 8th of 2022. There are people that are very upset. The bill is called the Respect for Marriage Act. What does that mean? It’s a law (rule) that will ensure that interracial and same-sex marriages are legally protected even if decisions like Love and Obergefell are ultimately overturned. Why would people be upset about that? Well…it goes against their beliefs (rules). When we have beliefs about what our behaviors should be, you could say that they are our set of rules that we follow. But here’s the thing…you are absolutely entitled to your beliefs. What you aren’t entitled to is insisting that other people follow your beliefs.

The comments that I am seeing are about how this bill will destroy families. I really don’t understand that argument. I saw the same comments back in 2015 when the supreme court made same sex marriage legal. I’ve yet to see a family destroyed by it. In fact, a lot of the straight kids that I knew in 2015 have grown up and gotten married to opposite sex partners. Some of them have even started their own families. I don’t know anyone who has gotten divorced because same sex marriages were made legal. There is a lot of fearmongering around this issue.

I’m not trying to be flippant. I know that this is really important to a lot of people because they think God is being removed from our culture by allowing things like same sex marriages. What they fail to realize is that many of these gay couples getting married also believe in God. I’m not sure you will ever understand the turmoil a gay Christian goes through searching God for answers until you sit down and listen to their story. When the gay person says that they believe God is ok with them, many people say they are only hearing what they want to hear, but sit down and listen to their story and you will soon see that is not the case at all. At least not with the precious people I have met along this journey. Maybe it’s easier for me to believe their stories of God’s whisperings because I have experienced those myself as a parent of a gay child.

I have listened to way too many stories of despair from people trying to mold themselves into what others believe they should be. I’ve seen too many people hurt by the demands that Christians have placed on them. Demands that they should ignore the voice of God that they have personally heard, but instead to listen to the voice of that person’s personal beliefs (rules). I’ve seen the pain of being kept a secret to avoid the anger and in some cases abuse from families that don’t accept you.

There are a lot of bills out there waiting to be voted on against the LGBTQ+ community. Laws that could take away their rights. Imagine that happening to you. We need laws in place to have order and so people know what is expected of them. Imagine someone’s belief that you didn’t agree with becoming a law that you had to follow.

What if I had come home from my friend’s house and insisted that our family have the same dinner rule? I don’t think my parents would have gone for that. It’s not that it was a bad rule…our family dynamic was just different. Both of my parents worked full time and they pretty much divided up the household chores. It wasn’t unusual for my dad to cook dinner or do his own laundry. Each family is different.

Gay people marrying is not hurting anyone. It is two people who love each other and want to make a commitment to each other.

And their love matters…

Let it go…let it go…

Don’t hate me for getting that song stuck in your head (smile).

When I was a little girl, I had a white “leather” coat. It wasn’t really leather of course, but it had the look of leather. It had two square pockets on the front of it and a belt to tie around your waist. I LOVED it! I’m pretty sure it was a fancy coat to go with my Easter outfit that year because Easter was early and it was a bit chilly. Once Easter was over though, my mom let me wear it outside to play.

Since I was only seven years old, it was inevitable that one day I would outgrow my beloved coat. But I wasn’t letting it go without a fight! As the months went by, my coat was getting tighter and shorter much to my dismay. Then one fateful day my coat was the cause of a bit of a catastrophe. I was wearing it as I was outside playing with friends. I don’t remember what we were playing, but there was running involved. I don’t know WHAT possessed me to run with my hands in those square pockets on the front of my coat. Since the coat was quite small at this point, my hands did not easily slide into those pockets…and they also did not slide out easily. As I was running down the sidewalk, my feet made contact with a small crack in said sidewalk. The momentum caused me to lurch forward…and I did a face plant onto the sidewalk. My hands were trapped in the pockets and there was nothing to break my fall. I had a nice scrape under my nose just in time for school pictures. My mom was none too happy about that.

Sadly that was the end of my beloved coat. I had to let it go.

As I write this, we are in the first week of yet another new year. The older I get the faster the years seem to go. I don’t really do new year’s resolutions. Instead I tend to look back at the year that has come to an end and reflect on the highs and lows. I feel like 2022 was a unique year for me in that I spent a lot of time on myself. To be honest I’m not used to that and it felt very foreign to me. There were two good reasons that it was necessary…my brain and my body.

The end of 2021 I was met with something I’ve never experienced before…a panic attack. The year was filled with strife that I was indirectly a part of. By nature I am a peace maker. I don’t like conflict…AT ALL. I feel like I have the ability to see both sides of situations, but not everyone wants peace. I lived in that tension for a year. At the end of the year I lost 3 family members within two weeks of each other…two on the same day. Add to that the residual effects of the pandemic and the daily struggle of living with an autoimmune disorder and my brain broke.

So 2022 was a year of healing for me and that meant I had to focus on me. I learned a lot about myself. The biggest lesson learned was that I don’t take care of myself the way I should. I have always been a head down, boots to the ground, I’m going to beat this no matter what kind of person with just about every situation that comes my way. I especially felt that way when it came to my health. An “I’m not going to let no autoimmune disorder stop me!” kind of attitude. To be honest…I never really accepted that I had one. I tend to handle stressful situations well when they hit and I then tend to crash afterwards. The problem was that I never tended to myself in the crash. Boy did that catch up to me at the end of 2021.

I had to look back at many situations that have happened over the years and realize that I never really dealt with them. Just keep soldiering forward was my mantra. I didn’t realize that this is what I was doing of course. And in some cases I didn’t feel like I had a choice…you do what you have to do kind of thing. Like losing my mom at 28 with two young kids. I really didn’t have the space to grieve and I’ve had to learn how to do that 26 years later.

Probably the most helpful thing I learned this past year was to let go of expectations that I had for myself. One of the burdens of having an autoimmune disorder that causes fatigue and pain is that when you do try to rest you feel like you are being lazy. I know this is not just a me thing. I’ve heard others in the same boat express this as well. So I would push myself constantly even when my body protested. I would rest some trying to convince myself that I was taking care of myself by doing so, but I was kidding myself. It wasn’t enough and my body finally said enough is enough.

I spent the first two months of 2022 in front of the television. I still worked my job which is very part time, but in my down time I watched shows that took place in beautiful places. I watched tons of renovation shows which tend to be my favorite. I watched baking shows, and pottery shows, and a sweet little show about dogs who find their forever homes. It happened to be what my brain needed to slow down and allow my body to catch up. I had to let go of that I’m being lazy feeling. And it helped…a lot.

I ended 2022 on a much better note. I still feel like I’m a work in progress, but aren’t we all (smile). I’m working hard at not falling into my old habits. I’m learning to continue to let go of expectations that aren’t healthy for me and I’m looking forward to what 2023 has for me to learn.

Sometimes we need to let go of possessions…like our favorite clothing item that no longer fits…and sometimes we need to let go of things that aren’t healthy for us. I guess you could say it’s an act of loving ourselves. We won’t be good at loving others if our tanks are empty.

And love matters…

A not so small problem…

When I was eight years old, I transferred from a public school to a private Catholic school. The public school wanted me to skip the third grade and go right to fourth. My parents didn’t want to do that. I’m very thankful for that because although I was ahead of my peers in the public school I was behind when I went to my new school. This school went up to the eighth grade, but due to circumstances beyond my control, I had to go to a new school for the sixth grade. This was also a private Catholic school so most of the kids had been together since kindergarten.

Being new as a third grader with kids that had been together for a few years was much different than starting at a new school as a sixth grader. Puberty is beginning to kick in and the last thing in the world you want to do is stand out in some way. I was so nervous my first day. Each class had an area to gather outside before the bell rang and most of us got there early so we had some time to socialize. What if I didn’t go to the right spot? How would I figure out where to go? I was shown where the sixth graders gathered in the morning when I was accepted and got a tour of the school, but did I remember correctly?

The big day came and my mom drove me to school that day instead of having me take the bus that first day. She dropped me off and I walked over to the sixth grade spot.

“You’re in the wrong place,” one of the kids said to me. My heart leaped into my throat and my stomach dropped to my feet.

“I am?”

“Yeah…third grade is on the parking lot over there,” someone else chimed in.

“I’m not in the third grade.”

“Oh sorry…fourth grade is also on the parking lot, but they are down by the fence,” another person offered.

By this time all eyes were on ME.

“I’m in the sixth grade. I thought this is where the sixth graders stood,” I replied.

That was met with a lot of “You are??” exclamations. “Man you are small.” I was mortified. Yes I was small for my age. And yes I probably looked like a third grader. I’m sure they were trying to be helpful, but all it did was make me feel like I had a big, giant sign on my head that said I don’t belong here. To this day, 44 years later, I still remember exactly where I was standing, what the kids looked like, and how it made me feel.

I was teased relentlessly because I was small. And for some reason boys thought they could just pick me up and spin me around whenever they wanted to because of my size. I hated that! So many times I yelled, “Put me down!” But as much as I was teased, I was never told I was wrong for being small. I was never told that I was lying about being small. I was never told that being small was a phase that I would grow out of (good thing because I didn’t…smile). My parents were never blamed for me being small. They weren’t told I was small because they wanted a small child. And they were never threatened for taking me to the doctor when I would get terrible growing pains in my legs.

I wish I could say the same thing for the LGBTQ+ people that I know and their families. They are under attack…especially given that it’s an election year. It seems that politicians these days can’t stand on what they have done or plan to do alone. They need to have a villain to get you to be against to gain your vote. That’s why this ballot is so important to me. I will be meticulously researching every candidate. Some of them make it easy as they don’t hide how they feel about the community. Others it’s not as obvious. It’s clear that they don’t do any research as what they spew is false information. It saddens me when people I know repeat the rhetoric they hear from these politicians. When I ask them questions, they are unable to tell me why they believe what they just said. It boggles my mind. And the kids are the ones that suffer from this verbal shrapnel.

I am the leader of a private FB group of moms of LGBTQ+ kids from the Maryland, DC, and Virginia areas. Something new is happening in our group. We are having moms from other states asking to join. The reason being is that they are looking for refuge in states that are more accepting of their kids and they have heard that Maryland, DC, and Virginia are better than where they live. I let them in so they can ask questions to be sure that they are moving (sometimes clear across the country) to safer places for their kids. Imagine that. Moving is no small feat…especially in the real estate climate that we are in right now. Not to mention the parents having to look for new jobs in the area. But in some of these cases they have no choice. There have been death threats. There have been threats from child protective services because there is so much misinformation out there particularly about transgender kids. Parents are not taking their children to doctors to have their body parts cut off.

As hard as it was for me to adjust to a new school, I can’t imagine what it is like for these kids. I can’t imagine dealing with being different in a way that people think you have control over. That you choose to be different. Folks if that were the case families would not be fleeing from the states that they have lived in their whole lives. What scars will these kids have 44 years later? Will they survive that long?

I hope you will research what you believe to make sure you know the truth about what you believe. I hope you will think of these kids and their families when you vote. They deserve to live the same kind of life that you are privileged to live. I will be voting as if their lives depend on it because in many cases they do.

I will vote for love…because love matters.

My family thinks I’m garbage…

When I think of my childhood and the bullies that myself or my friends encountered, there are two phrases that come to mind:

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me.


I’m rubber and you’re glue…whatever you say bounces off of me and sticks to you.

It was a contest of sorts to get the second statement out fast enough so that you were confident that the words would bounce off of you and stick to them. Then the snickers would commence as you congratulated yourself for outsmarting the bully. But did you?

Oh how I wish it were that easy. How I wish that words from long ago didn’t somehow still sting that little girl in me.

I attended a Pride festival in my county this past Saturday with a table for Free Mom Hugs Maryland. We were very excited this year because we were actually able to give out hugs. We attended last year, but due to Covid we refrained from hugging. Instead we gave out little “hug monsters” which were made out of yarn. So many people told me that they still had theirs from last year when they came to our table. They also were very excited that we were giving out hugs this year.

It was a beautiful day and we had lots of traffic at our table. The festival is four hours long, but it’s a bit longer for the vendors as we need to get there early to set-up and then stay later to break down our tables. There was about 5 minutes left until the official end and I was putting things away. As I was rolling up my banner, a girl came up to me and asked if I was still giving hugs. This is not unusual. I think sometimes people are hesitant and it takes them some time to get up the nerve to come over. For others, I think it’s that they don’t want an “audience” when they get a hug.

I said that I absolutely was still giving out hugs. I’ve mentioned before when talking about Free Mom Hugs that sometimes you feel a transaction happen when you give a hug. There are times that I will say something to the person, and other times it’s a quick hug that doesn’t seem to need words. This particular time as I embraced this young girl I told her she was loved. She said, “Thank you. My family thinks I’m garbage.”

I have to tell you that this has haunted me these last couple of days. When I talk to people that are in this situation, most of the time the issue is religion. I would have liked to have told this girl that her family will eventually come around, but I know that’s not always the case. I know too many people whose families have not let go of their belief that they need to shun their family member because they are LGBTQ+.

Today is National Coming Out Day. Someone you love may come out to you. It may be your child. Please don’t be a bully to your child. Words hurt, I would venture to say, sometimes more than sticks and stones. And there is no amount of rubber that will make your hurtful words bounce from your child’s memory and heart. It may be a shock to hear the words. You have time to figure that out. What is most important in the moment is that you let your child or loved one know that you love them. If your religion tells you that you can’t love them, maybe you need to take a hard look at that belief.

Before the girl left, she went to the board pictured here. She carefully selected two post-it notes that had the messages that she needed to hear. I can guarantee you that she will carry those around with her for a long time. It’s the affirmation that she longs for from her family.

Church…you need to do better. If people need to find love in a post-it note, then we have failed. A child being told they are garbage…surely God must weep.

If someone is brave and comes out to you, love them. Because love matters…

I am because we are…

Have you ever been helped by your neighbor? And since we are called to love our neighbor, I consider my neighbor anyone who isn’t me (smile). In other words…doesn’t have to literally be my neighbor. One of my most embarrassing moments involved being helped by a neighbor.

It was several years ago on a hot summer day. I needed to go to the grocery store in the afternoon to get some ingredients for our dinner that night. It was bright and sunny when I left my house…and very hot. I knew that they were calling for afternoon thunderstorms, but that’s usually the case in Maryland on those hot, humid days. I didn’t think anything of it as I headed out because it looked perfectly fine outside.

I got to the store and as I was walking around collecting what I needed I heard one heck of a noise. It took me a minute to realize that noise was rain hitting the store roof. I knew it must really be coming down out there if I could hear it inside. It was loud! I finished up, ran my items through the self-checkout, and draped my four bags evenly onto my arms and headed for the door. When I stepped out of the sliding doors, I saw what looked like the end of the world. The sky was black. There was lightening, thunder, and buckets of rain coming down. The parking lot was already partially flooded. I resigned myself to the fact that I was going to get quite soaked getting to my car. But there was one problem…

I am not one to get pedicures. I don’t like people messing with my feet. But in the summer time you want to have cute feet for your flip flops and sandals, so I do my own work on my tootsies. This includes a dose of some thick lotion on occasion to keep my heels soft and callus free. This particular day was one of those occasions. Well when water hits said lotion…ones feet become quite slippery. I was wearing flip flops.

I stood on the edge of the curb waiting for traffic to pass so that I could make the dash to my car. I kind gentlemen stopped to let me cross. I tried my best with the heavy bags weighing down my arms to give him a little wave of thanks. I took a step off the curb into a stream of water and started to shuffle my way through the crosswalk. It became immediately apparent to me that the lotion was an issue. I felt like I was on ice and my feet were just slipping and sliding all over my flip flops. Then I made a grave error. I knew from past experience that the paint on the crosswalk itself was slippery when wet. I didn’t want to have double slippage so I did a little leap to try and land in-between lines.

This landed me in a very wide someone split-ish stance. As I tried to lift my back foot to close the gap in my legs, it was clear that I was not going to get enough of a grip on my flip flop to propel it forward. Remember that it is raining buckets. Not only are my grocery bags heavy with food, but they are now also filling with water. So there I am in front of this truck…in somewhat of a split, arms out to my side with grocery bags, and I am stuck. I have no traction on my feet with my flip flops. I turn my head and look at the gentleman who stopped and said, “I’m stuck!” with a big, cheesy grin on my face with my hair practically totally covering my face at this point because it is so saturated.

This poor man opened the door to his truck, sprinted over to me, put his hands on my elbows and hoisted me up until I could get my legs together enough to get some traction in my flip flops. I yelled thanks over the thunderous claps above us, and he ran back and jumped into his truck. I then carefully shuffled my way to my car. I was very grateful for that kind gentleman. It is now a running joke with my friends that I had better not ever leave the house in my flip flops if rain is in the forecast.

That man saw that I needed help. Instead of driving around me (because there was space to do so), he decided to help me out. I once saw a story on Facebook that has stuck with me. It’s related to the African tradition called UBUNTU. Ubuntu, in the Xhosa culture means: ‘I am because we are’. The story that I saw was told by anthropologist who was in Africa studying a tribe. He spent a lot of time with the children in the tribe and wanted to do something special when his time was coming to a close with them. He went into the city and bought lots of candy and fruit. He put everything in a big basket and placed it on the ground. He then drew a line in the sand and explained to the kids that it was the starting line. The finish line was the basket. He told them that whoever got to the basket first got to have the treats that were inside. He lined them up and when he yelled “go” he was surprised that all of the children held hands and ran to the basket together. When they made it to the finish line, they took the treats that were in the basket and distributed them evenly between themselves and sat to enjoy them. When the anthropologist asked why they had done that when one of them could have had all of the treats to themselves, one of the children answered, “How can one of us be happy if all the others are sad?”

Wow! The story brought me to tears. How different could the world be if we all adopted this philosophy? It’s a beautiful picture isn’t it? I wish everything I saw on social media was as uplifting and positive as this story. On one hand, I love platforms like Facebook because I get to keep in touch with friends and family that live far away. But on the other hand, I feel like social media is becoming the demise of our society. It could be a place that builds community, and in some ways it does, but I fear that the ugliness of it might outweigh the positive.

There are many marginalized groups, but of course because of what I do there is rarely a day that I’m not disgusted by something I see on social media directed at the LGBTQ+ community. It is especially disheartening when it comes from our leaders. There is so much misinformation and downright lies being broadcasted daily. Much of it comes from not being educated. If you are going to speak publicly about something, I find it repugnant to do so without knowing facts about the subject matter. Back in July, a former leader spoke at a summit where he said a lot about the LGBTQ+ community. One of the things he spoke about was puberty blockers regarding transgender kids. He admitted that he didn’t know what a puberty blocker was, but went on to say that they were bad. He had a lot to say about it actually…even though he admitted he knew nothing about it. That is incredibly dangerous.

Trigger warning…the next paragraph includes comments made against transgender people…

When these types of statements are made, like the one by this former leader, the comment section online is atrocious. I have seen people tell transgender people that they should kill themselves. I’ve seen them say that their mothers should have aborted them (and when you look at their profile they show that they are prolife). Really?? They are called “its.” It’s bad enough that adults see these comments, but I know kids that have seen them too. And sadly some have taken the writers advice and taken their lives. The sad thing is that I would say that most of these folks have never sat down and talked to a transgender person or a parent of a transgender child. Their message says…I know better who you are and that’s just not the case. And the statements made by this leader are then repeated over and over again creating more and more sickening comments.

Author Mitch Albom was on a podcast I was listening to during one of my morning walks. He talked about his writings and his family. He shared the story of adopting his daughter. She had a form of terminal cancer and at one point needed to be carried from place to place because she could no longer walk. He spoke about how he didn’t mind at all and that it was a reflection of his love for her. He said what we carry defines us. That is powerful.

There’s a great meme on social media with a line of skeletons standing next to each other. Each skeleton has a “title” under it.

The only time I appear tall (smile)

I couldn’t find the meme, but I think my shadow says the same thing. We may look different on the outside…we may be different in what we believe…we may be different in who we love…but on the inside we are all human.

What if what we carried was love for our neighbor…love of community. What if we couldn’t be satisfied until everyone had what they needed (UBUNTU)? Instead of having the Us vs. Them mentality that some of our leaders would like us to have, let’s remember the story of the African children. Let’s be more careful about who we hate…because it could be someone we love. Let’s be more mindful of what we say or share online. Let’s keep an eye out for one another so that when we see someone slipping and sliding trying to hold on we can be the person that picks them up.

I am because we are…

Let’s look out for and love our neighbor because…

Love matters…