Nature, Parenting, and raising kids in a “different” lifestyle.

When someone asks me “Why would anyone want a child to live with gay parents? Is that the right thing for them to learn what family is about from?”, I don’t hesitate to say “I’d rather they live with a gay couple who love them wholeheartedly and teach them how to be good human beings than have them raised by a straight couple who beats them or left in a foster system that provides them with no stability for their adult lives.” But after answering that last night, I had a bizarre dream that led me to think that it’s more than that. I never want a child to live in a family where they are so incredibly afraid and ashamed of their natural genetic disposition, that they kill themselves, torture themselves, or harm themselves and others with them just because a -parent- can’t deem them worthy of living.

What is a parent? Really, let us delve into that core issue first. A parent. In the scientific sense, it’s a breeder, sure, but even science (particularly zoology) has also taught us that a parent is a nurturer who cares for its young without the prerequisite of having the exact same genetics. We’ve seen lions nurture gazelles, hippos raise pigs, pigs raise kittens, and so on. So, to base nature on the concept that being gay is not natural, and that a gay person does not deserve to exist among straight “normal” or “natural” people, is like saying “That lion is wrong for nurturing that gazelle.”. But what’s wrong with that statement? Here’s what is wrong with it. With that very statement, a human being has just asserted that the natural course to take is for that lion to eat that gazelle, and as that lion should eat that gazelle and eliminate it, it is therefore our responsibility as “straight humans” to eliminate gay humans. Pardon me, if I find that a tad animalistic, abhorrent, and ultimately inhumane in every sense. Human is to be humane, one would hope. So to eliminate other people because they just don’t fit with our “pack” is the exact opposite of being human. If it is the exact opposite of being human, then that would make us nothing more than animals inside. If it is to be believed that human beings are more advanced and skilled; intellectually and morally; than animals, then that would mean an animalist would not be natural. If a human being with an animalist disposition isn’t natural, we would be seen as having to eliminate it. And so it goes in this constant circle of who is more natural than who else, and ultimately we all end up dead because something, someone, who should have been a parent, a nurturer, chose to be an ‘unnatural’ animalist.

Oh but wait, you say it isn’t a choice, to view gay people as unnatural and reject your own child? It’s the will of God? Interesting. Thou shalt not kill. Thou shalt not judge. So many different commandments that point out it isn’t our place to do those things. Most importantly, if you are an animalist, you aren’t capable of making the conscious decision to believe in anything beyond what you can see right in front of you, because it wouldn’t be natural.

Are we sensing a theme here? I am. Stop using ‘NATURE’ as an excuse to alienate, reject, harm, or in any other way traumatize any other human being of any sort. Do not use nature as an excuse to keep a child from having a family. Do not use nature as an excuse to propagate your own fears and attach them to others. Do not use nature as the basis for any of your unnatural hatred.

No one is saying anything about changing your way of life so that it fits in accordance with someone of a different disposition. What IS being said is that if you’re uncomfortable, get up and leave. You should not expect other people who are perfectly okay in said circumstances to change everything around them to appease just you. No matter what you THINK nature is. Because let’s be honest, you aren’t nature. You don’t speak for the earth, the sun, the moon, the stars, and if you believe in God, I hate to break this to you, but you don’t speak for him either. Don’t bring a book written by other human beings into it. Use your brain, your humanity, and your empathy to figure out where you really stand. You’re human. You’re in a human situation. Deal with it.

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The Act of Being Radiant

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First and foremost, I must apologize for my absence this week.

This week has been full of tons of complications and surprises. I volunteer with the Arts Market in the town I live in, and at the same time that we were preparing for a big weekend, I had to fill out some very serious government paperwork that asked for more information than I ever thought I needed, so it has been a struggle to remain patient and graceful, but I do think it worked out and things are fine for now. Hopefully they remain so!

As for todays post, I really wanted to touch on the subject of being radiant.

Personally, I feel that people who shine the brightest are happy people who are healthy, inside and out. Positive mentality, kind, helpful, firm, and decisive. Those are the kind of people who appeal to me most. It’s rare to find anyone that perfect though, isn’t it? What if we, as human beings, strive to improve upon the world by making ourselves into these kind of people? What if, instead of hoping to meet someone like that, we became it and in that way become a catalyst for others to want to be that way too?

The primary aspect of the radiance I talk about is kindness. A lot of people assume being kind means you get walked all over. It doesn’t have to be that way though. You can always be a kind person who is capable of telling someone no if they are abusing your kindness. That doesn’t make you a bad person. In fact it is much worse to make a promise you can’t keep, just to appear kind. I do my best to look around me and see what I can improve upon. Whether it’s within myself or in the town I live in, the schools I go to, the places I work at, I consider what I can do as an individual to make the place feel lighter, happier, livable. So many places now feel like they are merely a place to exist within but they aren’t livable. It’s become a sterilized machine where humans are only cogs and bits to help the machine work, but aren’t considered necessary or particularly worth caring for. That’s a terrible way to live. Human beings have become entitled. That’s certainly true. It may not be true of everyone but it’s become true of the majority. The problem is that a lot of communities have taken on the mentality that in order to stomp out that entitlement behaviour there must be no real sense of community in the first place. That won’t work. It only makes people want more for themselves without giving anything in return. Should we give everything away and let the emotional wolves tear everything apart? No way! We do have to bring back the genuine nature of the word “community”, though.

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 We do need to reteach the values, the kindness, the worthiness of a healthy community. As it is now, society will not survive much longer. I’m not saying human beings will destroy one another and the world will become desolate and lifeless. What I’m saying is that society, the core that deems certain things like murder, theft, hate crimes, etc., to be unacceptable will dissolve into a pool of disgruntled human beings who no longer know how to connect, resolve problems, or protect one another. It may not become a free for all of damages, but it will become a broken home. This planet, is in essence, a house. It houses many different people and cultures, gardens, and animals. When we disrespect our home and treat it badly, the people within it start to get resentful and won’t want to respect it either. It escalates.

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I can’t fix the whole house alone but I can know that my actions do affect others.  I can make someones day great with a very simple act of kindness that requires next to no effort or I can make someones day miserable with a complicated act of bitterness that requires way too much energy to be worth it. Also, bear in mind that, when a person makes the effort to make someone else miserable, they are also amplifying their own misery. If you’re having a horrible day, don’t drag other people into it by making other people feel bad. Instead, improve upon your day by doing a kind thing, receiving a grateful smile and thank you, and see how you feel. Don’t give up just because the first person or second person you do a kind thing for (like holding the door for them, or offering them tea) forgets their smile and thank you. It doesn’t mean they hate or dislike you. It simply means that they have gotten caught up in the bitterness of the day and will need more kindness from various sources. That is not your responsibility. You’ve done your part, and will continue to do so for the rest of your day, so let others be kind too. If you take it upon yourself to fix everyones day, you will never have time to recharge. Some people are also way too far gone into their unhappiness for you to fix it in one day, and that has to be okay with you.  I prefer bright pops of kindness, random acts of sweetness, to pouring too much honey on an already sticky situation. I prefer being honest too. If I see a woman with a lovely coat or dress, I tell her it’s lovely. If a cute kid is being super awesome, I compliment the childs parent on their really cool kid. Can you imagine how many parents out there, go home and have to listen to a relative criticize their parenting methods? A lot of them get that, when in fact they are pretty good parents doing the best they can. Not all parents are good, but for the ones that have good kids and are obviously doing a good job, it should be acknowledged. It boosts their self esteem, puts a spring in their step, especially when they are already so exhausted from chasing around kids all day. That’s an act of kindness that can alter someones path in a positive way, without sacrificing too much of yourself. Self preservation is just as important as kindness but they need to be balanced. You have to know your limits and every day is a learning experience.

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I have had experiences where a simple act of kindness would have made a world of a difference. A simple hug when a loved one died and I was in shock would have made life a lot easier. I once had a coworker who had lost her husband to cancer. Now,  she had some moments where she was very unkind and did try to sabotage me at work (we’ve all had coworkers like that at one point or will encounter one. It happens.) but for some reason she was looking at pictures on her phone of him at the hospital when he was dying. I’m guessing she was really missing him and couldn’t wait to get home. That’s pretty natural. She ended up having to rush out of the room in tears. My instinct wasn’t to revel in her pain. In any case, I sympathized because I’ve lost really close relatives in very sad and painful ways before. That ache doesn’t leave you. It gets milder and softer. Bearable. You can function and you can even enjoy life but you don’t stop missing or remembering them. So I told my boss I was going after her, and he being the awesome boss he is, covered for me. I went out onto the patio where she was and I let her talk. It didn’t cost me a dime. It didn’t take away any of my frustration with her previous behaviour either. That wasn’t the point of that moment. That moment was about making sure a woman who was desperate and scared wouldn’t jump the 3 stories down from that patio. It was to remind her that she still existed and needed to live fully, and that she deserved happiness and kindness too. We hugged and went back to work. When you encounter those situations, don’t assume someone else will take care of it. A lot of times, no one does. The people suffering should not have to feel more alone than they already do. You can’t bring back their loved ones, you can’t fix their burnt down homes, or rescue them even, but you can be kind and once they’ve vented you can make them smile or laugh.

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Be the kind of person who can hug someone who is suffering, so that you can also be the kind of person who can receive hugs when you are suffering. It’s harder to accept kindness from anyone, if you’ve never been on the giving end. It becomes easy to assume someone has ulterior motives. The more you suspect others of shady behaviour, the more they suspect you of the same. Surprise them by being an honest and caring person and allow them to develop affection for you. A community is based on help, kindness, understanding, honesty, and even conflict, so long as it’s resolved. Don’t use your arms as walls, use them as a lifesaver.

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Be radiant. The stars burn out eventually but human kindness radiates a light that is immeasurable. It can guide the fearful out of darkness and provide warmth to the sorrowful. You are at your most beautiful when you are kind.

~Nina Cazes

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Don’t Throw Yourself Away.

                                                                                                                             Audrey Hepburn Quote 1

No one likes to be thrown away, forgotten, or considered less than valuable. It’s this simple fact that makes me wonder time and time again why people choose to behave in unfriendly or even cruel ways when chances are a lot of the time they are aching to be attached to something, to be remembered in some way. It’s probably safe to say that there are exceptions to this rule but fact is, not a single person in this world WANTS to disappear without having contributed in some way to the world around them. Some choose to do it negatively but many strive to somehow stamp the environment they are in with their mark and make a lasting impression. Some strive to make a difference for the better.

I know what it’s like to be the forgotten one, the unwanted, the black sheep. I’ve had ups and downs in life. I’ve been abused, ditched by my birth father, felt as an outcast in the majority of my family. On my mothers side, primarily because the abuse stemmed at the hands of a man married to one of her relatives, she cut herself off completely from that side of the family. Due to that experience, the part of the family that remained just didn’t feel like my own for many many years. It didn’t help that I never saw them, and that as a young girl, if I wanted to see them, we always had to go to them. I can’t recall a time when they made the effort to visit us instead. I don’t think they consciously excluded us. I think it’s just that they had so much more want in them, to see what the rest of the world had to offer, to improve their own lives, that a cousin, aunt, whatever, just didn’t factor as majorly into their traveling plans as I was naive enough to hope for. On my birth fathers side I was buried in guilt, ambiguity, and so much confusion. My father is far from a saint. In fact, I wouldn’t put much past him. My cousins (his siblings children) are amazing though. When my mother and I were forced to make the conscious decision that my father being in my life would be too unhealthy and unsafe for me, I sadly had to forfeit my cousins too. It was like having a huge part of me ripped away and it never fully healed. I do communicate with them now, but the act of ripping myself away meant that I missed out on so much of their lives that I really feel irrelevant now. I haven’t spoken to one of my aunts in over 15 years. An aunt who was once like a mother to me. I’ve reached out but I guess maybe I just missed out on too much and her circumstances right now would make it close to impossible for us to bridge the gap that occurred over the last decade and a half. All I can really say about that is that I genuinely do miss her.

The point to all of this is that, while everyone else had some strong root and connection to one another, I remained the forgotten. At least, that’s how it felt. I have my mom, who has many flaws but is a really supportive mom for the most part, and my stepdad, who has always been more of a father to me than my own father. I have two grandmothers who have made every effort to help me overcome anything in life and who struggle to do the same in their own lives every day. Even then… I felt that particular loss of having once belonged and suddenly feeling like a ghost. Of never being in on the inside jokes. I also felt like I couldn’t breathe without losing yet one more person. I began attempting suicide at a really young age. I once asked my therapist why I wasn’t succeeding and we ended up discussing several of the things that triggered it. She basically said something like, “Maybe you’re just the only one who was strong enough to survive it.” and that my failures at suicide weren’t really failures, they were an obvious sign that I wasn’t meant to die yet because I was too strong to go out like that. I struggle to believe that, constantly. Half the time I walk around feeling like I have invisible weights tied to my wrists and that my arms will fall off, my head feels cluttered, and I fight to breathe through all of the thoughts in there.

I’m not sure when the attempts fully stopped. I just remember feeling like I didn’t need to try anymore. There are times when I have panics and in an instant make a bad decision. That probably won’t ever change, because unlike people who can take medication to stabilize certain aspects of their depression or anxiety, mine isn’t chemical. Mine is so far gone into this realm of confusion, that I don’t know where it started. This isn’t a disregard towards meds, at all. Fact is, I’ve tried them. At 16 I was on Zoloft, then it was Lexapro, then another, and another. Eventually, I made the decision alone to never take another pill like that again. I walked around like a zombie most of the time, with tears in my eyes that just wouldn’t fall. I didn’t stop BEING sad, angry, or deadly towards myself. No, instead it squelched every symptom that could tell anyone I was in trouble. That’s when I knew that it wasn’t for me. Had it been for me, there would have been some form of progress or alleviation in the 10 years I took them. So it isn’t a disregard on the field that helps people with their depression, it’s an actual fact that it just wasn’t for someone like me. My issues stem from the events that led to who and where I am now. In order for those issues to be resolved, they have to be worked through in therapy, and that’s okay.

It was in therapy that I realized I had done the worst thing a person can do. I had forgotten myself. While I worried about how everyone else had forgotten me, about how I was no longer of value to them, I left myself behind. While I struggled with the ache of BELONGING to my own family, I threw myself away. I did not LOVE myself. I did not treasure myself. I, instead, became an overachieving workaholic. I had to succeed at something, anything, everything. If my family didn’t want me (as I felt then), then I’d make myself invaluable to someone or something else. The problem with that, though, is that you lose sight of the big picture. You forget that corporations generally view their employees like ants. It’s a sad reality, but let’s face it, most people at the head of a corporation can’t view each and every single employee as an individual because then they’d never get anything done. That’s why there is managerial staff and even they can’t really view you as an individual because they have to be the face of the company and are forced to cater to many people at once. In other words, even there, I was stranded and alone. I made friends but a great deal of the time it felt like I was outside looking in.

Curiously enough, they weren’t doing the isolating. I was. I was again, forgetting myself, not treasuring myself. So what happened? I was tired all the time, I felt inadequate so when they invited me out, I didn’t go.  I ended up spending a lot of time alone. I got to build up memories with a lot of wonderful people, but I held myself back by suspecting the worst in everyone and by expecting myself to fail. I did this all of the time. Sometimes, I accidentally still do. Greta Garbo Quote 1

That’s why I look up to women like Audrey Hepburn, Claudette Colbert, Grace Kelly, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Greta Garbo. Hepburn had secretly danced for groups of people to collect money for the Dutch resistance during World War II. Claudette Colbert lived as she saw fit and rebelled against the low expectations set for her simply because she was a female in an industry that treated females like a commodity. Grace Kelly exuded grace, even under pressure. Greta Garbo struggled through poverty in Sweden, and eventually made it to a completely foreign land to become a world renown film star. They did not allow their pasts to dictate who they would be in the future. They didn’t allow it to crush them and make them lose their sense of self. That’s why Audrey Hepburn was right in saying “Never throw out anyone.”. She may or may not have meant it solely as a statement about others, but I choose to view it as a personal statement as well. Don’t throw yourself away.

The minute you’ve thrown yourself away, you’ve given everyone else a free ticket to disregard you, or to treat you however they like. There is nothing wrong with being strong, assured, or weak, and confused. Those things are all understandable. The vital key in any of those things is being true to yourself, loving yourself enough to realize that even throughout the vicious and ugly moments that can occur in life, there is one person fully capable of ever understanding you, loving you completely, and encouraging you all the way. That person is yourself and the only person who can make that person change their mind is you.

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