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This book has been on my list for quite some time.  I guess I am finishing up this year and this blog with the wonderment of a child!  I kinda like it!

This is the 3rd book of Wayne Dyer’s that I am blogging about, and I have YET to read one he wrote for adults!  Too funny!

Who wouldn’t want their child to feel unstoppable..like the sky’s the limit?  This book gives “10 ways to soar through life”.  I love the rhyming and the rhythm in this book.  The pictures are beautiful and bright.  It’s just a fun book to read.  And at the end of this book are little discussion questions to ask your child (or maybe even for YOU) to think about.

One of my favorite quotes in this book is “Take a breath and slow it down a hair; it’s not just the goal that brings you joy–it’s the path you take to get there.”  It reminded me of this journey and this blog.  I had no idea what the journey would be like, but I did have a very specific goal: 52 books in 52 weeks.  Of course, I assumed, they would be grown up books with grown up messages.  In my intellectual mind, I figured they would be deep and profound and oh so very serious!  And yet, here I am finishing this journey with 4 children’s books all with very deep and profound messages, but with a FUN flair!  If there’s one thing I have learned this year it has been to let go and in joy NOW!

So what are the 10 ways to soar through life?????  I guess I will share that secret with you, but you really should pick up the book and read it for yourself….since I won’t be sharing with you all the fun stuff that comes along with it!

1) You’re Great–No Matter What!

2) Persistence Pays Off!

3) Welcome the Unknown

4) You Have a Choice

5) Farewell to Worry

6) Peace Begins with You

7) Enjoy the Here-and-Now

8 ) Healthy Me!

9) Creativity is the Key!

10) What can you Give?

There you have it..now rush out to the store and pick up your own personal copy and give yourself a warm hug and smile!

So there I was, walking through the book store  making a bee line to the children’s section when I saw this cute little puppy dog on the cover of a  book and it was on sale for $4.98.  Add that to my to my favorite word ever, “Bliss”, it was a MUST HAVE!!!!!

I was once told that the quickest way to feel happiness is to play with a pet.  I wasn’t sure if that was true or not.  I have never been a big animal person.  I have always had pets, but I have never really been attached to them so I really didn’t understand this.  Until I was really sad and my cat came up to me to love me and make me feel better.  Then my dog would ask me to play and I would laugh so hard at him.  And I fell in love with my animals.  They have taught me some big lessons.  So it was fun picking up this book and learning some lessons on happiness from Trixie the dog.

I also have to say that it was fun reading a book by Dean Koontz that was on the “light and fluffy” side :).

This book was written from Trixie’s point of view, and was a little odd to read at first.  But as soon as I fell into the rhythm of the writing, it all began to make sense, and I really enjoyed the book.

According to Trixie, “the road to bliss is paved with dog wisdom.” And there are 8 steps.  I will not tell you what those steps are; that is for you to read and find out!  But here are some lessons I learned while reading Trixie’s thoughts:

1) Sit still and be quiet.  Meditation is good.

2)  The rising moon at the bottom of a finger nail is beautiful.  I  never really noticed this before!

3) Life without a cookie is unthinkable!

4) “Pleasure without beauty is just empty thrill”…kinda like Sex without love…..hmmm….same thing, yes?

5) “The world is a gift to  make you happy.”

6) “Here is what real meaning is like.  Maybe you’re meant to give kindness to one special child.  Child grows up, is healer or wise leader.  then your purpose was as big as any king’s, maybe bigger.”  Being a stay at home mom….priceless and so very important!

7) “It is what it is.”  “No Kidding.  if it isn’t what it is, then what would it be?  And if it is what it isn’t, what the hell is going on here?”

8)  “Where there is patience and humility, there is neither anger nor vexation.” ~ St. Francis

9)  If I want to remain young, I must play and laugh more!

10) Grief is cleansing.

Bonus reminder:  Be grateful!!!!!!!!

This book is filled with such heart warming and profound wisdom..straight from the dog’s mouth!  You will laugh and maybe even cry while reading this book.  One thing is for certain, you will smile!!!!!

“Though I didn’t know it, I was in a dangerous place now.  Having determined that this world was the only one I had–or would ever have–here I was, in conscious mistrust of its core.  And on the other hand, it had been confirmed that the outside world, the one that I had been trying to escape into since I could walk, was not my home either.  I was a misfit in both places.  The only true home I had was inside the notes of music, inside the all-consuming world of white ivory keys and their black flat and sharp companions.”………….

The passage above comes early in this book, thoughts from a 14-year-old Adelaide.  Being raised in an  ultra-conservative home where a girl/woman’s hair was a glory to God, where dancing was not allowed, public bathing (swimming) was not allowed, as well as so many other “thou shalt nots” (as I call them).  From such an early age she wanted to run away and explore, calling herself a gypsy; yet she was stuck in a home with an overbearing mother and father who was emotionally absent most of the time. What she knew to be HER truth and what she was being raised with conflicted on a daily basis, and she found solace and place of “belonging” in her music.  I too shared this kind of confusion in my childhood faith and struggle in my home and solace in my music…..  this was just many of the similarities between Addie and I that I found between the covers of this book!

This book is such a beautiful and heart-warming journey “Walking From Religion to Spirit” (as the cover of the book says).  Isn’t this what this blog is all about?  Well kind of anyway, right?  I, too, was raised in a conservative Christian home.  Though admittedly I was allowed to wear what I want, dance, swim and certainly didn’t have any rules in my house.  The only rules in MY house were that you were to be a God-fearing, tongues speaking, baptised Christian.  Scratch that, these rules weren’t the rules of my house, but they were certainly the rules for ME.  My brothers didn’t have to live by these same rules.  I’m not sure why, but as I read this book and even typed that last sentenced, it dawned on me that possibly the reason that I was the ONLY child out of 4 that was supposed to live by these rules is because I was closest to my mother and I was expected to be a shining light for her.  (Mother daughter issues…….this book is filled with them!)

Anyway, back to the book.  I LOVED it!  I love the history behind the words.  I love the visuals created by the words.  Every time I turned a page, I felt like Addie could have been telling my own story from Religion to Spirit.  I even learned a bit bout my own father and the way he must have been raised (though Addie is nearly 20  years older than my dad would have been today).  More than just her spiritual journey, there are a plethora of insights into being what I call a “sacrificial mom” (or even wife)…of being that care taker.  I found myself self saying out loud…”Hey, Addie!  That is what I am dealing with right now!!!!  Thank you!!!”

All the way through I kept thinking how incredibly blessed I am to have Addie as a member of my church.  This book was released on her 90th birthday…at my church.  Even though I have been attending this church since January, I had never met her until purchasing her book and having her sign it.  When I smiled and wished her a “Happy Birthday” I had no idea just how much this book would  mean to me and how it would touch my life!  Now all I can think about his how truly blessed I am to have such an amazing woman and possible friend in my church.  I can’t wait to send her a card and thank her personally!

Addie’s story is such a blessing and inspiration to all women out there searching for their spiritual path…for all moms out there who give so much to their families…for all the wives who just might  give too much of themselves to their husbands….to women who suddenly find themselves empty-nesters and wondering what the heck to do next!  For all the women out there who say, “I’m too old to do this…..”  you should read this book!

Have you heard the saying, “the only thing constant in life is change”?  Addie’s book is a perfect reminder of that.   As a matter of fact, one of my favorite quotes in the book says, “For me, the status quo, however appealing, never shone as brightly as the radiance of change.”  You get to follow her journey as she moves from parsonage (the home of a pastor) to parsonage and finally to her own homes.  You get to follow her journey that starts in New York and ends in Idaho and takes you places in between.  You get to cry at the unfairness of abuse, face fear in the face of disease, revel in the feeling of first love, feel the darkness of depression and the climb back out to light.  You get to sit with Addie at the bedside of her loved ones as she says goodbye, and you get to say goodbye too.  You get the thrill of not just becoming a mother..but of becoming a grandmother AND a great-grandmother!  This book is a fascinating and exciting read!

I find myself having a hard time sharing what I have learned from this book, but I will say that there are no coincidences in life…….and just as Addie mentions being led to our church (CSL) for a reason (this book), I feel as though I have been led to CSL for a reason…one of them being this book!

I will close with this thought.  Lately, I have been feeling “old”.  I’m only 41.  Yes, this is young.  I never felt old until I started in a sport where the women start retiring in their mid to late 30’s and I was just getting started!  Trying to get onto a Roller Derby team at the age of 41 seems kinda crazy.  And with my new schedule, I will be 42 by the time I can get drafted!  That is even crazier!  Then to add salt to the wound I was inflicting upon myself, I started to read a book on menopause.  The book is written by one of my favorite, entertaining local authors, but the idea of me going through menopause just made me feel even older!  I had to stop reading it.  The next book I picked up was this one, and towards the end of the book, there is this great quote from Addie reminding me that 41 is still very young!  “The new energy breathed into my home lifted my spirits and supported the feeling that, at the age of eighty-three, I was entering the best era of my life.”

Go, Addie, Go!!!!

THE BEST $7.95 I HAVE EVER SPENT ON A BOOK!!!!!!!

This is a short 122 page book that will have you using just about as many tissues to wipe away the tears!

Okay, to be fair, I have to say that I knew when I picked up a book with this title, that I was going to shed a tear or two.  I knew I was picking up a book that was going to be heart warming.  But seriously, I had no idea just how much this book would affect me!

Follow the story of a young journalist on a mission to have her story land on page 1A (above the fold) of her newspaper.  Like they say about every goal in life, it’s not about the destination in life, but the journey TO the destination.  So true for this book and the story of our young Heroine.

Life is filled with so many amazing lessons about being strong, following your dreams, being forgiving and forgiven, never letting go, letting go, and giving back.  This book just reiterates all of that!

More importantly, reading this book reminded me of so many lessons in my own life, and lessons that I hope I have passed on to my children.  Though, to be honest, it can be challenging to pass on some lessons to your children without the same life shattering experiences to provide the ground work.

I have shared my story with my children numerous times, and I hope they have really HEARD it.

Christmas Fire

 

Christmas in my home was always exciting!  In 1980, this statement was never more true.  I was 11 years old and I had three brothers: Matt age 21, Mark age 17, and Michael 10. With 4 children in our house, you can imagine the excitement around the Christmas tree!  The Christmas season always started the day after Thanksgiving.  Each year, my mom would take us kids out to pick out the best Christmas tree; then we would bring it home and decorate it.  Soon after the decorating was completed, the presents started appearing!  From the moment the presents started appearing under the tree, right up until the magic moment on Christmas Eve when we opened our presents, my little brother and I spent countless hours digging through the presents, reading the tags, shaking them, and counting.  One year, we counted over 120 presents under the Christmas tree!  It was absolutely magical!  In 1980, the presents were already starting to pile up and Michael and I were counting the days until we could open our gifts!  Life had different plans.

 

It was a typical busy day in my home.  My two older brothers,  were both working.  I had been invited to stay the night at my best friend Noelle’s house.  My little brother Michael was home watching TV and my parents had plans to go out for the evening.  Michael was left alone for most of the early evening.  He decided he was going to make popcorn, which back then had to be cooked over the stove.  He had done this plenty of times, so it was no big deal.  After eating his popcorn he headed out to his friend’s house to spend the night.  The house was empty, until my parents came home and went straight to bed.  Then Matt and Mark came home and went straight to their rooms to sleep.

 

The next morning Matt was gone as soon as the sun rose.  My parents were up pretty early as well.  They went into Mark’s room to get the car keys, and they left (leaving Mark’s bedroom door open behind them).  Mark was the only person left in the house, and he was sound asleep; that was until the smoke woke him up.  Coughing, Mark woke up dazed and confused as the smoke-filled his bedroom.  He jumped out of bed and threw the stereo through his bedroom window and then he got himself out  He called the fire department and then waited.

 

I had just spent a fun night at Noelle’s house and we were riding our roller skates back to my house when we heard sirens heading in our direction.  We turned around, “Look, Noelle!  A fire truck is heading this direction!  I think it’s going to my house!”  Noelle looked in the direction of the truck, “No it’s not, Martha.  Just watch.”  We watched the fire truck race past us and down the street.  We watched as it turned right on my street.  A sickening feeling rolled through my body.  We skated faster towards my street and reached the alley that ran behind my house.

 

I looked down the alley and saw the smoke.  “Look, Noelle, the smoke is right where my house is!”  I raced to take off my skates.  “Martha.  It’s not your house.  Everything is fine.”  “No,” I said, “It IS my house!  I have to run!”

 

I took off running down my street, racing towards my house.  I saw the 2 fire trucks, police cars, ambulance, and neighbors all around my house.  The black smoke was spiraling into the sky, and I KNEW it was my house long before I ever got there.  When I was 3 doors down from my house Mrs. Mac stopped me and held me tight.  “Mrs. Mac!  It’s my house isn’t it?  My house is on fire!”  Mrs. Mac held me tight as I sobbed in her arms, “Yes, sweetie, it is your house.  Mark was in the house, but he is safe. No one else is home now.  Everything will be alright.”

 

Right after that, my brother Mark came running up to me.  Together we stayed in each other’s arms as we watched the firemen dowse the flames out with their hoses.  After the fire was out, the firemen came up to me one by one giving me hugs.  “Excuse me, Mr. Fireman, can you  tell me what happened to my pets?”  He held my hands, “Your dogs were in the back yard, and they are fine.”  “But, Mr. Fireman, what about my bird that was in my bedroom?  What about our cat?”  The look in his face said it all, and I broke back down into tears.  He couldn’t save my bird, and there was no sign of our cat.

 

Eventually, my parents returned home.  My oldest brother was called home and my little brother, Michael had been retrieved.  The firemen told us that the fire had started in the kitchen at the stove.  “Someone left the stove on, and that’s what started the fire,” they said. The last person in the kitchen had been Michael as he cooked his popcorn over the stove.

 

Since our family was so big, we had to be separated.  Each of the kids went to a different friend’s home, and my parents went to yet another friend’s home.  We were separated for a week or so until my parents could find a house for us to rent until my childhood home was rebuilt

 

Finally my parents found a small, run down house for us to move into.  It was too small for our family, and my little brother had to sleep in the living room on the rented furniture we had until our home and our furniture was repaired.  We moved into our rental house on Christmas Eve.  When we moved in, all we had to bring to the house were a few articles of clothing, rental furniture, and a metal card table with folding chairs for a dining table.  That night, instead of making our traditional Christmas Eve dinner of Tamales and Chili, my mom and I went shopping.  Instead of buying toys and games, my mom and I shopped for plates, silverware, pots & pans, groceries and some more clothes for the family.

 

Instead of wrapping presents and putting them under the Christmas tree, my mom emptied the shopping bags and put the items we just purchased on the card table.  These necessities were our presents, and for the first time in my young life, I realized what Christmas was really about.  It had nothing to do with how many presents were under a Christmas tree.  It had nothing to do with toys and games.  It had everything to do with family and love!  And the best Christmas present I could ever receive is the gift of my family being together happy and healthy.

 

There are so many great lessons in this book and with less than 2 months till Christmas and the stores already playing Christmas carols, I high recommend reading this book to restore some sanity in your life in regards to the holidays.  And with the invention of a child’s gift registry, I highly recommend having your children read this book..or at least sharing the message with them!  It just might change yours and their lives!

Admittedly, what I know about Maya Angelou is very little and mostly from Oprah’s TV show.  I have read a couple of her poems, which have touched me.  But until I picked up this book, I have never spent any quality time with Maya Angelou’s thoughts or words.  The title of this book spoke to me because I have always thought about the books I would gather and hand my daughter as a gift as she transitions from girl to woman.  This book is now one of those books that will be passed down.

This book is a quick one day read of 28 short stories/essays and a few poems about life as an African American woman, pregnancy, rape, being a daughter, coming of age, spirituality and so much more!  I  had some very profound moments while reading this book, and I found quite a few parallels with her thoughts on racism and my thoughts on the discrimination of LGBT individuals.

I spend a great deal of my time volunteering, and I donate money when I can.  I have never spent any time looking up the word “philanthropist”, but thankfully Maya Angelou has.   “The word philanthropy was taken from the two Greek words.  phil–lover of; and anthro–mankind.  So, philanthropists are lovers of humanity.”  She talks about how they show their love through large sums of money and how she would classify herself as “charitable”.  “The charitable say in effect, ‘I seem to have more than I need and you seem to have less than you need.  I would like to share my excess with you.’  Fine, if my excess is tangible, money or goods, and fine if not, for I learned that to be charitable with gestures and words can bring enormous joy and repair injured feelings.”

She finishes her thought by saying, “I may  never be known as a philanthropist, but I certainly am a lover of mankind, and I will give freely of my resources.  I am happy to describe myself as charitable.”

I loved her thoughts on this.

There is a chapter called “Morocco” where she tells a story of her trip to that country.  She was a young naive 25-year-old woman who was not versed in the ways of the Moroccan people.  She tells a humorous tale that reminds us to learn about the customs of the countries we want to visit.  This story actually had me laughing out loud.  I may never look at raisins the same way again!

A lesson in gratitude:

“The ship of my life may or may not be sailing on calm and amiable seas.  The challenging days of my existence may or may not be bright and promising.  Stormy or sunny days, glorious or lonely nights, I maintain an attitude of gratitude.  If I insist on being pessimistic, there is always tomorrow.  Today I am blessed.”

A thought on strangers and friends:

“I learned that a friend may be waiting behind a stranger’s face.”

There was another story she told about her life with  her ex husband.  “Within two days of our meeting we knew were in love together and had to be in life together.”  To me, the thought of being in love together instead of in love with each other, was so beautiful and such a great way to express what love truly is.

Then as I was finishing the book, in the last “chapter” called “Keep the Faith” she describes a persons spiritual journey as this…”It is in the search itself that one finds the ecstasy.”  And so it is!

Imagine being a very young elementary school girl and liking boys.  Sounds about normal, right?  Now imagine being a very young elementary school girl, liking boys AND liking girls.  Sound a bit confusing?  Ya; that’s the understatement of a life time!  Hi, I’m Martha Saathoff Spiva; I’m a 41-year-old married mom of 3 AND I’m bisexual!  This is my story.

One of my earliest childhood memories was attending a church with my mom.  We met in a 2-story office building just off of the LBJ Freeway in Dallas, Texas.  It was made of all black glass with cement pillars.  The minister was a woman.  We met in a big, square room with a stage/podium up front.  I was 5 years old.  There was an altar call…a come to Jesus moment.  And I KNEW I was being called to start my spiritual journey.  I went.  I asked Jesus into my heart.  From that moment on, my spiritual journey was the most important thing in my life.  This was a defining moment for me!

After we stopped going to that church, we started attending the Richardson Assembly of God Church.  After that we moved to the Lakewood Assembly of God Church 30 minutes away in (almost) downtown Dallas.  This is where I spent my formative years.  This is also the time my parents put me in a Baptist private school.  Needless to say, I grew up in a very conservative, right-wing, Texas, god-fearing home.  I knew my Bible backwards and forwards.  More importantly, I had my very own spiritual walk with God.

And this is where things got confusing……….

Like I said, I liked boys.  I have always liked boys.  When I was in kindergarten, I had a HUGE crush on “Talky” the 6th grade crossing guard and friend of one of my brothers.  In 1st grade, I had a boyfriend named Tracy Lewis (not the same Tracy that I married).  As I got older, there were always crushes on new boys and those crushes grew longer and more serious as I became a tween.  All the while, my spiritual conviction grew stronger and deeper.  But all the while, I LOVED girls.  I crushed on my girlfriends.  I would rather look at the women in my brothers’ girlie mags than look at the men.  Finally, at 11 years old, I couldn’t take the confusion anymore.  I needed to talk to someone.  And I thought my mom is the person I could talk to.

This is how it went………..

The car had just pulled up and parked in front of our home.  I asked my mom if we could talk.  “Mom,” I said, “I think I’m gay.”

Her reply:  “That’s impossible!  Besides, you don’t even know what that word means!”

“Yes, Mom, I do.  It means that I like girls.”

“But, Martha, you like boys, don’t you?  You have boyfriends don’t you?”

“Yes, Mom, I do.”

“Well, see!  You aren’t gay.  Besides, It’s impossible.  You are a good Christian young woman and it’s impossible for a good Christian young woman to be gay!  It’s a sin!”

With that she opened the door, stepped out of the car, and the conversation was never brought up again.

Just because the subject wasn’t brought up again, didn’t change what I felt inside.  Only now, it was worse.  I knew I was a “good Christian young woman”.  I knew I had a spiritual calling.  At 11 years old, I had already read the Bible once all the way through.  I prayed every day..a couple times a day.  I even prayed for these “urges” to go away.  They didn’t.  But I buried these feelings and didn’t mention them again for 11 more years!!!!

What happened in those 11 years?  I  met my husband at 14 years old.  I knew the minute I saw him that I was supposed to marry him.  And when we turned 19 years old, we did get married.  The crushes I had on my girlfriends became more serious, but I never mentioned them.  They fantasies I had about women became more intense, but I never mentioned them.  I became even  more confused.  I knew I was supposed to marry Tracy.  I knew I loved him.  Yet, what do I do about these other feelings?  Who and what the heck am I?  Somewhere in there, I learned that indeed I wasn’t gay/homosexual/lesbian.  By then, my vocabulary had grown.  I was bisexual.  Talk about confusing!!!!!  Great, so I know what label to wear, but where does that leave me?  How does that reconcile with  my Christian beliefs?

I became very suicidal for a number of reasons.  I felt like I had no one to talk to.  I wanted to come out to Tracy, but what if he left me?   We were, according to my intuition, supposed to get married!  I didn’t want to screw that up!  I couldn’t tell my girlfriends; we all belonged to Baptist Schools and Assembly of God Churches, and by now and I was also attending a Seventh Day Adventist Church with my boyfriend.  There was NO WAY I could tell anyone from any of these places!  I could be expelled from school.  I was already in enough trouble with the people in the SDA church for being too affectionate and intimate with Tracy.  And my girlfriends, I thought, would feel uncomfortable undressing in the locker room when I was around if they knew (not that I was lusting after them in the locker room…I was too busy  trying to cover up my hickies from the make out session the  night before!)  I was scared with nowhere to run!  The only person I could talk to was God…and I did that all the time!  I prayed.  I read my Bible.  I asked to be normal.  I WANTED to be “normal”.  I cried myself to sleep at night while praying for God to fix me.

At the same time, I remembered a time when I was in elementary school.  I was bullied all the way through my school years…elementary through high school.  I remember feeling like a piece of trash.  And one day after praying and reading my Bible, I sat in my room and drew a picture….more of a poster really.  It said, “I’m not junk, because God don’t make junk!”  This was the message that God gave me when I was a little girl.  I am a Special Creation and I am LOVED!!!!  This is how I survived!

Finally, at 22 years old, after being married for several years and having 2 boys, I found the courage to talk to Tracy.  “Tracy, I have to tell you something.  I hope you don’t get mad.  I hope you don’t want to leave me.  But I am bisexual.”  His response?  “Martha, I could have told you that.”

I’m sure there was more conversation after that, but I don’t remember that.  I just remember feeling so loved and accepted in that moment.  He knew me (and still does) and loved me for who I was even if I wouldn’t admit who I was to myself.  He loved me for who I am long before I loved me for who I am!  My intuition, the Grace of God, that Still Knowing….it was right!  I WAS supposed to marry him!

From that point on, I only came out to a few people where I felt I was safe.  With the invention of the internet and silly role-playing games called MUD(s)…Multi User Dungeons…(kinda like Dungeons and Dragons on-line) I was able to just be myself.  It was freeing. It was anonymous for the most part, but I did make some life long friends from that silly game and they are even friends with me on Facebook now…crazy!

We left our Christian churches behind.  I knew I was made the way I am and I could NOT belong to a faith/church/dogma that said God hated me (or my actions) and that I would be sent to hell for just being me..when I KNOW (from the message I was given as a little child) that God made me just as I am and I am NOT junk!  I never let go of my spiritual faith and personal walk with God.  Finally after all of these years, my husband and I have found the perfect place for our spiritual faith and walk, and it is one that is inclusive to all walks of life: gender, orientation, religious beliefs, races, colors!  It’s a beautiful thing and EXACTLY what Jesus the Master Teacher taught about love!

Anyway at the age of  30 I started feeling the need to really live my life and be “out”.  I was out to a select group of people who were also in the LGBT community.  But I longed to be out to my every day friends who I hung out with every single day.  So, at first, I told Anne and Kim.  Our sons were in Cub Scouts together…they were in Kindergarten together…our lives intertwined.  Anne’s hubby was the Pack Master for our Cub Scouts.  She told him.  I was able to remain a Den Mom..as long as I didn’t make a big deal about it and tell the boys.  But then, when my oldest son moved to a boy scout troop and that particular troop practiced severe gay bashing, I could no longer stand by quietly and keep my boys in a program that taught them that their mom was a freak of nature.  So I wrote a letter explaining why I was pulling my boys out; I sent it to the people who needed to know (including Anne’s husband).  The next thing I knew, Anne was threatening me.  She had taken this so personally (even though her husband was NOT the one I was complaining about..he is a very good man and I totally respect him).   She threatened to out me to the principal of the elementary school our children attended.  She threatened to out me and cause a ruckus in my life and ruin my reputation at the school.  I was on the board of the Family Teacher Organization.  I was very involved in the school.  And she was going to venomously out me and cause issues in  my private life.  I was scared!

It was at that point, I felt I needed to come out to two more of my very close friends…..Beth and Annelle.  They served on the FTO board with me.  I told them EVERYTHING.  They love me…even today!  Thank you, Nell and Beth for loving me and never judging me (or if you did..for doing it quietly).  *laugh*

Shortly after the “near shoving out”, we decided that it would be better if we moved to Idaho.  My husband had a job opportunity here, and I felt like I could use the fresh start without having to look over my back all the time.  I wanted to live my life as “out”.  We moved here, and I immediately got involved with the LGBT community here.  The problem is, I am still bisexual.  Bisexuals not only get grief from the  straight, closed-minded people; but sometimes they also get it from inside their own community.  Sometimes homosexuals don’t like or accept us because they feel as if we just don’t know what we want and are just confused..we are just straight people playing around…or gays who don’t know it yet.  Yea….not so much!  After being shunned by my own community, I went back in the closet (for the most part).  I went back to feeling alone…even from within my own community.

Eventually, I got over all of this.  I was even given an award by The Community Center (the LGBT community hub I looked to when I first moved here) for being a good example of the LGBT life and my community service!  I received the award during Pride week!  FINALLY, I was being recognized  and ACCEPTED for who and what I am…and being awarded for it!!  I AM OUT!!!!!!

This year, in the after shock of 12 gay young men committing suicide because they could not stand the bullying brought on by their orientation, I am stepping up in a very public way.  I am coming out on Facebook and in my blog.  I am standing up and coming out for these 12 young men who couldn’t come out and stand up for themselves.  I am coming out and standing up for all those who are still in the closet, afraid for their lives, afraid of the rejection, afraid of the religious god-fearing haters who would tell them they are hell-bound sinners.  I am coming out LOUD and PROUD for all of those people being bullied..whether by children or adults, by the straight or the gay community…I am standing up for them!

I want those who are still hiding in their closets peeking out from behind the cracked door to know that it is okay.  It is more than possible to come out and do more than just survive out here!  Sure, there are still some haters out there, but things are so much better than they used to be.  There is a community out here that loves and supports you.  Please, if you are feeling scared and bullied, reach out to those of us who have been there..we are here for you.  We love you and want to support you.  There are so many resources for you.  You are NOT alone!

For more information and support, please check YouTube for “It Gets Better” project http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7IcVyvg2Qlo   and The Trevor Project http://www.thetrevorproject.org/

This is a picture of my 17 year old son Nate and I at the 2010 Boise Pride Parade!

This is me right after I was awarded the Willow Award from The Community Center…a Community Service Award given to a person of the LGBT community.

This is me and my amazing hubby, Tracy!  He loves me just the way I am!

Today I had a FANTASTIC morning!  The only thing better than being lost in a beautiful picture book is to share that beautiful  picture book with my 11-year-old daughter, Naomi!

On Tuesday mornings, I go into my daughters class to volunteer.  I get to pick kids out to read to me (and later do math).  I have been doing this for well over a month now, and today was the first time I got to work with my own daughter.  I was so excited!  I prepared the table for reading with the kiddos.  I set out all the books for them to read.  I called out my first student and she read a great rhyming book.  Then, to my extreme pleasure, I got to call out my daughter.  I noticed that in my books was Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters by John Steptoe.  John Steptoe is one of my most favorite children’s books authors and I actually own several of his books.  As a matter of fact, I own this book as well, but it has been probably close to a decade since I have read it!  So instead of letting my daughter choose which book she wanted to read, I asked her to read this book to me.  I told her it was one of my all time favorites and I would love to share it with her.  Happily she opened the book and began to read!

The book is an African Folktale that has won a Caldecott Award (which means it won for its pictures, and they are beautiful!)  It is about 2 sisters…one who is bossy and mean and the other who is very sweet.  It is your typical “Cinderella” storyline..well minus the evil step mother!  *laugh*  But it definitely follows the Cinderella archetype as outlined by Carl Jung.  Did you know there are 900 Cinderella stories out there?

Anyway, as Naomi was reading, she stops and says, “Mom, I like Nyasha’s personality better than Manyaras.”  She got excited about seeing a snake in the garden and later asked about the snake again.  This is truly the sign of a great picture book…one that gets the children thinking and asking questions..one that engages them!  John Steptoe is amazing at doing just that!  This book is filled with beautiful pictures, beautiful words, and more importantly a beautiful message…and one that I am so glad I got to share with my daughter!

These last couple of days it has struck me just how much reading is a gift in my life.  The act of learning to read and the character building it gave me while I was bullied for not being able to read….the gift of self-confidence my 5th grade teacher gave me when it came to reading…the safe escape it gave me from abuse in my home…the lessons learned while reading such amazing books…and the gift to be able to share special stories with my children and other children I get to volunteer with!  And in all of my years of being a parent, I am never prouder than when I hear my children tell me they have finished reading a book!

Today, while listening to Naomi read this story, my heart was filled with such gratitude and pleasure….for so many reasons.

If you have not read this book to your children (or even for yourself), I highly recommend picking it up!  For that matter you can check it out on this link:  http://vimeo.com/6276456  It is an episode of Reading Rainbow (I loved that show!)  This book is filled with great lessons of kindness, compassion, forgiveness and African culture!  It truly is a remarkable book!

Have fun!!!!!

Last weekend, I had the distinct pleasure of directing/leading the Idaho Women’s Retreat for women living with HIV/AIDS for the 2nd year. I may be the director of the retreat, but these women give me so much!  I learn so much from them each year…about strength, forgiveness, and so much more!

I had such a great time with them last weekend, and we even ended it in time for me to head to church.  Last week’s message was on Joy being the a quality of God.  I love “Joy”.  I feel it  every day, and after hearing about it at the end of the Women’s Retreat, I just cried…big ol’ crocodile tears from joy over flowing!

Rev. Jackie showed us the difference between Happiness and Joy.  Happiness is a reactionary emotion (something you feel because something good is happening) and Joy is a causative emotion (we act FROM joy not because of joy).  This is what I feel in my every day life. I feel joy in everything, even when some things just don’t look “joyous”.  Jesus said, “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” (John 15:11)  Joy is INSIDE us already; we carry it with us at all times.  It just needs to be revealed to us..by surrendering our worries and cares.

I have been told lately that I glow.  I believe I glow because it is the joy radiating from inside of me.  I live a life that is truly blessed, and I believe it is blessed in every area!  That doesn’t mean I don’t have my hiccups in life, it just means that I recognize the perfection in every part of  my life.  It also means that I listen to the GUIDance of God…my divine discernment.

Have you ever looked at the word “guidance”? Rev. Jackie, reminded me about the word’s significance in the message yesterday.  The word DANCE is the majority of the word.  Who doesn’t feel joy when they just dance?  Whether they just let go on a dance floor or find themselves dancing through life.  I tend to do both.  But the first part of the word is GUI (God U (you) and I).  God, U (you) and I DANCE.  When we ask for guidance from god and we let go and trust, then we will find oursevles dancing with God.  When we fight it..that is when we struggle and we lose our joy.

So how does this all work with the Women’s Retreat?  Well…here it is.

This year, no matter how hard I tried, I could not find presenters to present at the Women’s Retreat.  I asked everyone I knew.  Even the ones from last year who said they wanted to participate this year wouldn’t return  my emails or phone calls.  It was crazy.  So I asked God for discernment and GUIDance.  What I was told was that it was all perfect and that it was time for me to present my own workshop…one that I had prepared years ago.  The Hero’s Journey.  I was to present this to the women to help them find their own Hero inside their HIV journey.  Once I realized this, I was completely at ease.

And of course, it WAS perfect.  During the workshop, one of the women said that her boyfriend had been studying alot of Joseph Campbell’s work and now she has a better understanding of what he has been looking at.  It has really helped her understand.  Not to mention, the original intention was to help the women find their own Hero within, and that is exactly what we did.  There were some “a-ha moments” over the weekend.  We had a great time!  The weekend was relaxing and done perfectly…time to learn..time to reflect…time to laugh..time to share stories with each other.  It was beautiful and easy.  We “danced” through the weekend.

These women are beautiful and powerful.  I have learned so much from them, and it is my pleasure to be of service to them.  One of them kept saying how good I am for giving so much for no monetary value.  I don’t know how “good” I am, but I do know how “blessed” I am.  This is my calling, and when you follow your calling, all things fall into place.

As I prepared for the weekend, and I surrendered to the will of God and what was supposed to be, I watched everything unfold.  And I remembered the very moment in which I was called to be a retreat director.  The vision I had for the women’s retreats was completely different than what I do now, and there is no question in my mind that what I do now is EXACTLY what I am suppose to be doing!

Psalms 16:11 says, “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”  I have listened to the divine discernment and GUIDance given to me and I experience the fullness of joy at every turn!  I am so very grateful!

When was the last time, you just let go and Danced with God and felt the Joy that is within you already? Just try it, you won’t regret it!

On May 7th, 2010, I turned 41 years old!  It was a party; as a matter of fact, I partied for about 2 weeks!  I absolutely adore my life and celebrate it every day!  And this last year  has been one of the best years ever!

When I was approaching 40, I thought, “I’m gonna lose enough weight to jump out of a perfectly good airplane for my 40th birthday.”  It didn’t happen.  Instead I started my birthday out right with a birthday party filled with laughter.  I had a laughter fitness instructor deliver a laugh o gram, and my whole party joined in the laughter.  We wore silly hats and had a great time! My husband and my best friend bought me a ride in a Nascar Race Car on the Las Vegas Speedway.  I got in the car with a professional racer and went around the track at 245mph!  I was excited and scared all at the same time, and when the car started moving all of that fear went away.  It was fabulous!  I loved it!  And while we were in Vegas we saw Jimmy Buffett and partied all weekend.  It was awesome!  It was a great way to start off my year.

So between my 40th birthday and my 41st birthday, life has changed dramatically.  Until just before my 40th birthday, I hardly ever laughed.  Now I laugh all of the time.  I smile all of the time.  I actually feel JOYFUL 98% of the time!  I know this because in 3 weeks, in 3 different settings I have had people come up to me and tell me that I am radiating love or happiness.  The first time this happened was right after my husband and I joined our church.  One of the church members came up to me at the end, and said, ‘I just had to hug you because you radiated love from up there on the podium.”  Then the next week at a Tropical Cowboys show, the drummer came up to me to give me a hug and told me the same thing, “I see you all the way back here radiating love.”  Then just last weekend, on our way through the security line at the Boise airport (on our way to Vegas again) a TSA lady came up to us and stopped us.  “Where are you going? I just know it has to be some place fun, because I have never seen people rush up to the security line with such smiles on their faces!”  We told her we were going to Vegas.  And she said, “I have never seen 2 people so happy!”    Funny thing is, we weren’t near as excited and boisterous this year as we were last year heading to Vegas.  *laugh*  It’s just that I have changed so much!

So what happened????  To say I really don’t know would be a stretch I guess.  But I can’t tell you one specific thing that has changed.  It is just a matter of things accumulating I think.

1)  I learned to laugh and not take myself so seriously!

2) I found work that I take joy in (being an Independent Beachbody Coach)

3)  I work out alot more..almost every day

4) I have lost weight (not the amount I had always strived for) and I have gained some back, AND I am happy with who I am!!!  As long as I FEEL good that is all that matters!

5)  I take risks!!!!  If I am scared of something, I make myself do it! I don’t let fear keep me down!  I started living FEARLESSLY!

6) I KNOW & TRUST that my highest good is always being taken care of….worrying is wasted energy.

7) I am growing spiritually and intellectually through all of this reading I am doing.

8) I have learned to say “No” and “Yes” at the appropriate times!

9) I love freely and share that love with everyone I meet

10) This is  my favorite..jsut the other day, when one of my class mates was asked, “What part of God do you see in Martha?”  her response was “Authenticity”  When we moved to Idaho, it was my goal to live openly and be authentic with who I am….And her reply was exactly what I needed to hear to know that I am living my life the way I have always dreamed of living it!

Sure I have challenges.  Sure I would still love to be a lesser physical weight.  Sure I would love other things to change.  However, I LOVE MY LIFE NOW!  In this moment, right where I am, I LOVE IT!  I have one of the best marriages I have ever seen.  I have 3 beautiful loving strong children and one  just as beautiful loving and strong daughter in law!  I have volunteer work that fulfills me.  I have a job that keeps me active and encourages me to be better.  I belong to the perfect church for my life and it is filled with so  much love it is palpable!  I am making new friends who love me for me!  It’s perfect!

And for my 41st birthday, that same friend who helped with the race car ride, bought me my roller derby gear.  Ever since I was a little girl, I have wanted to be in the Roller Derby.  3 years ago when Boise got its Roller Derby League, I told my hubby that is what I wanted to do.  And every year since, when I start seeing their advertising, I say the same thing.  “I want to do that!”  Well, yesterday was my first practice as Fresh Meat for the Treasure Valley Roller Girls.  I was scared.  Here I am..41 years old, well over 200#…and just started roller skating again after not skating for over 10 years!  I put on my shiny new speed skates, and pads and got out on that track!  I was scared to fall; what if I looked stupid?  What if I couldn’t get up?  What if it was all too much for me?  What if I am too out of shape?  To heck with the “what ifs”  Just get out there!!!!  So I did.  When it came time for practicing our falls, my new friend Crash told me “you have great knee pads, just trust your gear and trust yourself.”  I did.  And guess what?  I didn’t get hurt!  When it came time for endurance practice, they cheered me on!  When it came time for weaving drills, they cheered me on!  I was told, “You have great skills to build on!”  “You are a natural”   “You must have been raised on skates.”  And when it came time for backwards skating, I blew them all away. Even the non-fresh meats.  I skated circles around them.  “Wow!  Look at Martha go!”  I’m not gonna lie, that felt damn good!   I was exactly where I needed to be.  It was the perfect fit for me.  The only sport I have ever felt comfortable in was a sport that included roller skates!

There are sooo many lessons to be gleaned from yesterday’s Fresh Meat practice.  Living fearlessly:  Fear is there to keep you safe, but if you are already safe, it is just a hinderance; it’s a lie!  Taking risks is how we grow!  It’s a must!  Learning to trust ourselves and trust “our gear”.  Let go and trust God.  We will never know how great we are at something unless we give it a try!  We will never know the joy of accomplishment if we don’t take that first step!

On mother’s day this year (which was 2 days after my birthday) my  kids gave me this huge card that had this granny woman doing the splits on the cement.  When you opened up it played one of my favorite disco songs.  (My kids know me so well.)  But what they wrote inside of it was so touching.  My 17-year-old son told me he was proud of everything I have accomplished this year and encouraged me to keep it up.  My 10-year-old daughter told me basically the same thing.  That is such an amazing feeling.  They see all the changes I have made in my life this year.  They recognize this brighter side of me.  I know I am setting a great example for them.  I know what I am doing is right!

If you are sitting back in that comfortable space of fear.  If you are afraid to take risks and would rather live a “safe” life, then I challenge you to make some changes.  Take a step outside of that box you have built for yourself.  Get out there and enjoy this life.  We are here to experience it and live it..not to watch it float on by us like a parade!  Get up and join the parade!  Dance with the clowns!  Play those blaring horns!  Maybe even do some juggling.  And remember, even in a parade, there are people who have to pick up the horse manure!  It’s not always going to be fun and games, but it is always worth the risk!!!!!

I’m in the front left hand row with the white shirt.  This is at my first Treasure Valley Roller Girls Fresh Meat Practice…learning to skate in a pack and listen for verbal ques and directions.  So  much fun!

This book is the follow-up to The Four Agreements also by Don Miguel Ruiz.  When I opened the book, and saw that it went over the first 4 agreements again, I thought “Wow! This is going to be a long re-read!”  I was completely wrong.  Yes, it went over the first 4 agreements again, but it gave me new insights.  This is always a welcome treat.

Have you ever had a book where you love almost each and every word you read?  It’s like each word has a direct link to your heart and means so much more than the paper it is written on?  That is this book!  Almost every page is dog-eared and has notes written on its pages.  I love the quotes that can be pulled from this book as well as the huge insights and awakenings it gives!  You won’t be disappointed!

I am pretty certain I have said this before, but I have always felt that if we just listened to each other’s stories, World Peace would be a reality.  Well the 5th Agreement is just that!  Be skeptical, and listen!  Listen to each other.  You don’t have believe what they say or share their believes, but LISTEN.  You will find out where they are coming from and why they act the way they do.  You will UNDERSTAND why they are different from you and maybe even find out that they are the SAME as you!  Listen, but be skeptical.  I loved this!

You know that saying, “Ignorance is bliss”?  Here is a quote in this book that reiterated this for me:

You existed  long before you understood all those symbols, before you learned to speak, and just like any child before he or she learns to speak, you were completely authentic.  You didn’t pretend to be what you are not.  Without even knowing it, you trusted yourself completely; you loved yourself completely.  Before you learned knowledge, you were totally free to be what you really are because all those opinions and stories from other humans were not in your head already.

We knew bliss once before as a child.  Before our parents and society told us what to believe about ourselves and the world around us, we knew we were perfect.  We were thrilled with ourselves.  We  had no reason to believe we were anything other than amazing!  We experienced bliss every single day of our lives!  Before knowledge, there is ignorance…and IGNORANCE IS BLISS!  Once we let go our attachment to this “knowledge” we will find our way back to that bliss :).

One of the reasons I loved this book so much is that it spoke to the huge issue of Self-esteem.  Since I teach a self-esteem class for girls, this obviously got my attention.  One of the subjects we touch on in my class is the idea of perfection.  As a society, we tell ourselves that no body is perfect.  What a lie!!!!!  Ruiz, tells us that by teaching our children and believing that “nobody is perfect”, we spend our entire lives measuring ourselves against this idea of “perfection”.  We spend our entire lives trying to look perfect, act perfect, be perfect.  We create “perfection” in the media through digital manipulation and tell our girls, “This is what perfect looks like.” But even the woman in that picture doesn’t look like the woman who is in that picture!  Seriously!!!!  Just go take a look at the video clip “Evolution” by Dove  and see for yourself.  Yet, here we are telling ourselves and our children that “nobody’s perfect”.  It’s a lie!!!!  Every human is perfect!  “The truth is that everything in creation is perfect, including humans.”

I love this:

Everything about us is perfect, including any disability or disease that we may have.  Someone with a learning difficulty is perfect; someone born without a finger or an arm or an ear is perfect; someone with a disease is perfect.  Only perfection exists, and that awareness is another important step in our evolution.

PERFECT!!!!  It’s not enough to say this, but we need to BELIEVE IT!!!!  I believe it, do you???

I will leave with this thought.  Gandhi said, “Be the change you wish to see in this world.”  This is something I remind myself on a daily basis.  If I want my children to be a certain way, then I must model that for them.  Ruiz says, “When you’re happy, the people around you are happy too, and it inspires them to change their own world.”  My passion and mission in this life is to be of service and change the world through my service.  If you want to change the world, start with yourself.  Be the change you want to be see in this world, and the people around you will follow.  Change/better yourself = change/better the world.

Thank you for reading  my blog.  Even if you don’t comment, I see that you are reading, and that means the world to me.  This journey is mine, but it is also yours.  We are walking this path together and together we can accomplish anything!  So thank you!