Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Our Journey to Equality

Last night Americans spoke loudly in favor of equality. We sent a clear message, and it wasn't so much a message about the candidates as it was about the issues.

Equality has always been one of the top issues for me. Gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people are a part of our society, always have been and always will be, and the idea that an entire group of Americans should be systematically discriminated against is appalling to me.

Twelve years ago I got involved with my first political campaign - the Yes on 6 campaign in Maine. I got involved in this effort through the gay/straight alliance group at school. We worked hard. We made phone calls from our own phones, went door to door, wrote letters, passed around petitions, and drove people to the polls. We heard countless stories from Maine citizens who had been fired, bullied out of their jobs, evicted from their homes or denied housing in the first place - not to mention the stories that had been there all along about people in long-term committed relationships being unable to visit their sick partner in the hospital or receive health or life insurance benefits. We also had countless experiences of being shouted at, cursed at, and threatened by people who were very uncomfortable with the idea of ending these forms of discrimination. There was a lot of energy on our side of the campaign, though, and we were full of hope that we would be part of the group that would really bring about change, equality for ALL Americans no matter who we love in our private lives.

But despite the energy on our side, there was a lot of resistance on the other side, and we ended up losing. It was the same year that Al Gore lost to George W. Bush in a highly controversial election that was riddled with many different kinds of fraud, and the despair among our group of equality supporters was palpable.

Even though we lost that particular fight, as time went by we started to see something happening. It was happening in Maine, but it was also happening all over the country. Over the past decade, there has been a lot of lively national - no, GLOBAL - discussion about marriage equality, and there has been an incredible shift. Twelve years ago I was about as discouraged as I could get, but since then as months, years, and entire campaign seasons have gone by, I’ve been so proud to see a new landscape unfolding.

Equal rights for GLBT people has been a defining civil rights issue for our generation. The debate in our country has gone on and on, but the voices who speak out against discrimination have been speaking louder and louder, and last night our voices were heard loud and clear.

We don’t have the right to use our own religious and moral beliefs to deny a normal, legal marriage and family life to an entire group of American people. It is not okay for people of a particular religion or philosophy to continue insisting that their way is the only “moral” or “right” way. And this is not an attack on religion - it has nothing to do with religion. It has everything to do with the rights of a substantial percentage of the American population. Our right to work, live, love, raise our families and contribute to our societies in peace and safety.

Giving equal rights to all Americans, whether gay, straight, bisexual, transgender, or none of the above, does not revoke anyone else’s right to live their own life, worship their own God, or raise their own family.

Today, the day after America banded together and voted for equality, I am beaming with pride. I’m incredibly proud to have played a small role in the work we’ve done. I’m proud to be involved in this movement for equal rights, and excited about what the future holds. As I’ve gotten older and hopefully wiser, this issue has only gotten more important to me. There is so much that is uncertain in our world, and Americans should have the right to be confident in the security of their own family.

There’s still a lot of work to do, but I’m seeing the tide turn and I’m overwhelmed with pride for our incredible country. We have been testing the water with anti-discrimination laws and domestic partnerships. There have been tremendously discouraging votes that were very close but ended up voting down equality, but there is a ripple effect underway. We have put our collective foot down. Last night we spoke up in Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, and Washington State. We’ve already spoken in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, New Hampshire, New York, and Washington DC.

Beyond elected officials and ballot measures, we've grown so much as individuals and as a society. We speak out against hateful slurs, against bullying, and against discrimination in many forms. We've used our power as consumers, as voters, and as concerned citizens to send the message over and over again, all across our country, that we will not stand by while our we, or our friends, relatives, coworkers, neighbors, sons, daughters, parents, receive different treatment under the law because of the gender of the person they happened to fall in love with. We will no longer stand by and allow a policy of discrimination to cast a shadow over American families.

If you are against gay marriage, then don’t marry a gay person. But there is no way in which allowing GLBT couples the same rights as straight couples will cause harm. Conflicts between religious beliefs and someone elses civil rights should be handled in churches, not in our government. We are all Americans and we have equal right to live and love in the United States of America, and the group of us who believes in equality is only continuing to grow.

I’m an incredibly proud American today. My heart is full of hope and optimism. No harm can come from letting go of old and hurtful patterns. When we focus only on our differences we drive ourselves farther and farther apart. Let us join hands and walk together into our future and focus on how we can bring our country together.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Joy of Music in our home

During my six years of mothering, there have been countless times when I've been touched by how special a particular moment is. Watching a baby take those cautious first steps; seeing a young child struggle with something that seems simple to me and then witnessing the pure joy and pride that washes over him when he finally gets it all by himself; listening to him read a book from cover to cover for the first time. There are so many important "firsts" that happen in family life. Lately, though, our six year old has been taking beginner piano lessons, and I believe that this experience has been the biggest "miracle" in my parenting journey so far.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Being Compassionate Doesn't Mean Allowing Yourself to be Blamed or Abused

It's interesting, the feeling that I get when I am reminded to be more sensitive to someone when I feel that I've given them an extraordinary amount of sensitivity. It's a funny kind of conflict. I think we have all experienced this feeling to some degree.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Size 18 to Size 8 - My Weight Loss Journey in Photos.

Hi there! This is me. 
I'm known here as Sunshine Mama, and this is my story of gaining and then losing a whole bunch of weight. When we got married in 2005 I weighed about 135 pounds and was a size 6, the smallest I'd been in my teen and adult life. After my first pregnancy I started on a roller coaster of weight gain and then eventually weight loss. From 220 pounds to 155 pounds, from a snug size 18 to a slightly loose size 8, from 2006 to 2012 - this is the whole experience.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Friday, March 16, 2012

Reflections on a Changing Life

From moving twice in the past three years, including one cross-country move, gaining and then losing about 70 pounds, friendships and relationships that sometimes ebb and sometimes flow, there have been plenty of changes in my life. There have been new hairstyles, new phases, new projects, and even recently new clothes, which is always pretty exciting.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

My mistrust of Western medicine.

To be honest, I have a general mistrust of Western medicine. I would say that this one feeling of mine is the thing that consistently evokes gasps and raised eyebrows. I have a lot of strong opinions on a lot of subjects, from breastfeeding to birth to grammar to mental health and many other things, but when I question listening to ones doctor, or maybe treating conditions at home rather than rushing to a doctors office, people are consistently shocked.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Struggling, but I WILL NOT get stuck.

In the interest of honesty and full disclosure, I am struggling. However, I think the reason I am finally finding the will to write about it means that I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, so I'm going to get my words out and go with it. When I've struggled with things in the past it has always helped to be able to think about the situation, put words and descriptions onto it, and then move forward.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Bug lost his first tooth!

Our 5 1/2 year old son, Bug, has been wiggling his lower front tooth for the past couple of weeks. For most of that time he's been very cautious about it. Some caution is totally understandable, especially for a kid like Bug who likes to be sure he knows how to do something All The Way before he gives it a try. The new "grown-up tooth" behind it has been slowly growing in, ready to take over whenever the wiggly tooth was ready to fall out. We would joke while brushing his teeth at night that he was just going to grow several complete rows of teeth, like a shark, never actually losing any.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Nazis and their Breastfeeding Agenda?

Breastfeeding Nazi. What a hurtful, offensive statement that is cruelly thrown around, usually behind the anonymity of an online posting. It's a whole other level of hurtful to receive this kind of insult AFTER somebody has repeatedly come to you for breastfeeding advice, telling you that they are committed to making it work and they NEED your help. The internet - it offers us so many wonderful opportunities for growth and learning, and also offers us this wonderful platform where you can hide behind your online identity and say cruel things that you'd never say to someones face.

Friday, January 20, 2012

"I didn't ride in a car seat, and I turned out fine."

"I didn't ride in a car seat, and I turned out fine." What an infuriating response to the topic of car seat safety for kids. It occurs to me that the children who didn't ride in car seats and DIDN'T turn out fine may not be here today to make such remarks. It's very sad to say, but it's true. The resistance to car seat safety is something I have never been able to understand. Our children grow up so quickly and move on to so many new things. Before we know it they're off doing their own thing with their own people. Sometimes we have frighteningly little control over their safety in the world. One simple thing we can do as parents, though, is provide a safe, modern, expert-approved car seat that will hold them in the safest possible way in the case of an accident. Of course an accident could happen and they could be fine in the wrong sized seat, or in no seat at all, but is that something you want to take a gamble with or is that something you want to take every precaution with? Personally, I'm not taking any chances with my children's lives. Bug is comfortably riding in a five point harness at the age of 5 1/2 years, and BooBoo is rear-facing at 22 months. They both know that they're riding in the safest way for their size.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The staying power of New Years Non-Resolutions.

It's been several years since I've made a genuine, publicly announced New Years resolution. This year I broke from that and made a resolution to send hand-written cards to people I love, and I'm sad to report that it's now January 17 and I have yet to mail one out. I actually regret making it an "official" resolution, and I'm going to excuse myself from it and downgrade it to my list of Non-Resolutions.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Happy Birth Day to my life-long best friend.

Today is the day that my best friend since 10 years old became a mom. I've spent all day checking Facebook for the latest pictures of her and her brand new baby girl. She is absolutely gorgeous and she looks just like her beautiful Mama, and even though I'm 3,000 miles away I'm already completely in love with her.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

My perfect birth song.

Before my home birth with BooBoo I spent a lot of time putting together a playlist of all different kinds of music on my iPod, so I could listen to anything that I felt like and zone out into my headphones while laboring. It turned out that there was only one song I actually wanted to listen to.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Pregnancy care is all wrong.

We're doing it wrong when it comes to prenatal care. I've never understood why, at the very beginning of the pregnancy when there is so much opportunity for learning and preparation for growth (literally AND figuratively!) prenatal appointments are often skipped entirely during the first trimester, once a month at best during the second trimester, and once a week or even more often in the final few weeks. To me, this is completely backwards from how it ought to work. If I were in charge of pregnancy "policy" for our country (oh, what a different prenatal and birthing environment we'd have...) I'd have the highest frequency of appointments at the beginning of the pregnancy, and then leave the huge, tired pregnant lady alone to prepare for her labor in the third trimester, unless she specifically requests more appointments or there is a problem that requires monitoring.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Forget about "that time of the month."

I'm trying out this new self-respect and self-love thing, and finding (the more I learn about my body) that this self-love even extends to my monthly cycle. This sounds crazy, especially to anyone with an irregular or difficult period, I'm sure. But have you ever considered how much our emotions are tied in with our hormones, which are (obviously)  involved in our monthly cycles? Many of us are aware of our tendency to become, how you say, "psychotic" or "a basket case" or "a raging bitch" during our periods, but what about the rest of the month?

Yoga time.

The Man has been really wonderful lately and has been taking BooBoo to the playground to burn off some energy every morning after he drops Bug off at school. (He's been working closing shifts at work, so he doesn't have to go in until 10:30.) I've had my necessary amount of coffee, now I'm going to pour myself a nice glass of water, put on a bra, and turn on the TV. Never in a million years did I think I'd love our Wii Fit so much when we decided to buy our Wii. The yoga especially is really helpful for my lower back, which has really been bothering me lately.

Do you do yoga? Any other kind of workout? Do you take a class, use a video, a Wii or Kinect, or maybe an exercise machine? What is your absolute favorite way to work out?

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Why don't I drink more water?

My gut tells me that most of the problems I deal with, physically have to do with not being well hydrated. I'm a healthy and active person, and I feel good (most of the time) but when I don't drink enough water I feel tired, get a dull headache, dry skin, sore joints. When I'm conscious about increasing my water intake I feel better almost immediately, so you would think I'd train myself to simply drink more water more often.

3500 mile drive in pictures.


The night before the Yard Sale To End All Yard Sales.  

The trailer! Next step: Fill it with everything we have left.

Looks good, but I think we can still squeeze a few things in.

"I WAS JUST WHISPERING THIS QUIETLY."

There's nothing like thinking I've gotten off easy with a quick bedtime for the kids, when I quietly slide off the bed where BooBoo is sleeping quietly, and...

CRUNCHCRUNCHCRUNCHCRUNCHCRUNCH!! goes the giant paper bag that has mysteriously moved all the way from the living room to the floor right next to BooBoo's bed. It just gets worse - everywhere I step to get away from it, it's still there. I step backwards and catch myself abruptly with a quick jolt of my lower back as my foot finds the stray chess piece, the single piece that didn't make it back into the box. How does a bedroom that's actually pretty clean and tidy develop such a disaster zone at the foot of the very bed I need to sneak out of most quietly? The whole time I'm crashing and crunching around on this darn paper bag I'm vaguely aware of Bug's dramatic stage whisper, although of course I can't understand a word he's saying.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The power of placentas and menstruation.

I just had an interesting conversation with some good friends about placentas, and whether or not it is weird to make "placenta art" in the shapes of hearts, call them "lovely" and "beautiful" and make other such emotional connections with this organ. It's funny that this is the conversation that happened when I was stewing over a post about how my menstrual cycle makes me feel like Super Woman.

Reflection.

It's a new year, time for new beginnings and fresh starts. Here's to a new adventure. <3