Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Every moment we have to live our life is a blessing

Last Friday there was a terrible tragedy in Aurora, Colorado, when a young man entered a midnight viewing of the new Batman movie and opened fire, killing 12 people and injuring 50 others.

Days like those force me to remember September 1999, when the Wedgewood shooting happened in my hometown, to people I knew. 7 people died that day. Their loss rippled through our community and still reverberates in our hearts. Every time there's another shooting I jettison back to that day. To the weeks and months and years after it. I think of my good friend standing next to her best friend, watching her die. I remember the fear and the confusion and the sorrow.

My heart goes out to Aurora, Colorado. I can imagine what they're going through. I've seen it firsthand.

Among the victims last week were a six year old, three young men who died protecting their girlfriends, and a young woman named Jessica. There are things about each victim that tug at me, but the one that really got inside me is Jessica. Jessica was an aspiring journalist from Texas, but that's not what made her stand out to me. After reading this article on Jessica and then reading her blog about how she narrowly escaped another shooting just a few weeks before she died, I couldn't get her out of my head. I've been thinking about her and what she wrote ever since.

This passage keeps replaying in my head: "I say all the time that every moment we have to live our life is a blessing. So often I have found myself taking it for granted. Every hug from a family member. Every laugh we share with friends. Even the times of solitude are all blessings. Every second of every day is a gift. After Saturday evening, I know I truly understand how blessed I am for each second I am given."

We aren't promised tomorrow. Hell, we're not even promised this afternoon. As my BFF likes to remind me, I could survive with my illness for another 50 years, and she could step off a curb and get hit by a bus today. Nothing is guaranteed. We aren't promised any definite amount of time. The only thing we have is right now, this moment.

And a single moment can define our entire lives, or even snuff it out. Your life can be going in one direction and then suddenly turn on a dime. I'm not sure that I can believe that everything happens for a reason. I don't think that bad things happen to teach us a lesson, either. I do believe, however, that reason can come from every happening, and I do believe that when bad things happen, there are things we can take from the experience. When tragedy knocks us off our feet, we have a choice: let it break us or make us.

One of the reasons I love Batman is that he rises every time he falls. He has made a career out of turning his tragedies into triumphs. He doesn't have any special powers other than his own wits and perseverance, and he is a self made man. He took his tragic experience and used it to shed light in a world where darkness and loss and pain can blindside you. Most of all, he brings hope. He shows us that heroes really do exist. This is evidenced in the young men who saved their girlfriends. This is shown in the actor who portrays Batman onscreen going to visit the surviving victims in the hospital. This is displayed in the outpouring of love and support from around the world for Aurora, Colorado.

I wish it didn't take devastating losses for us to stop and count our blessings, to take stock of our lives, to seize the day. I wish it didn't take people dying for us to truly begin to live. Unfortunately, bad things happen. But good things can be created from the wreckage.

Each of us has it in us to be our own hero. Every one of us has the choice to sit down and live in fear or to stand up and live our lives. We all have the opportunity to spread light and love in this world. All of us owe it to ourselves, and especially to those who are no longer with us, to live each and every day to its fullest.

Like Jessica said, "every second of every day is a gift." Are we going to let it sit, unopened, on a shelf, or are we going to unwrap it and put it to good use?

To pull from several of my favorite phrases and forge one amalgamated saying, this is my advice: Life is a daring adventure, so live it like you're dying, and take a chance; every second is a make it or break it situation, so be here now, and make it count.

We owe it to those taken too soon, to live extra in their honor. So be a hero, be a blessing, be truly alive.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Monday, July 23, 2012

There's no crying in baseball

"There's no crying in BASE.BALL!" -A League Of Their Own

My Dad used to say that line to me when I was a kid. I never even liked baseball and I grew up with Ranger Stadium in my backyard. Oh I loved going to the stadium, but not because I cared about the game, or Nolan Ryan, or Pudge Rodriguez. I simply went for the food, of course! Nachos, Slushies, pretzels, and Ballpark franks? Yes, please!

Anyway, this post isn't about baseball, or Ballpark franks, it's about crying.

A few months ago, someone asked me when, if, how, I cry. I don't, of course! Ever. Because I'm tough. Liar.

Our conversation went like this:

"The post where you said you cried at the drop of the hat, and the hat drops often...that one stood out to me."

"You stepping on your hat, too?"

"Eh, I have big feet."

When I was younger, one of my friends asked my mom, a nurse, why we cry to express emotion: joy, sorrow, tiredness as opposed to just because something is in our eye or we are in pain. I don't remember her answer, and I'm sure studies have been done on the subject, but I think on a spiritual level it must have something to do with the "eyes being windows to the soul" and energy not being created nor destroyed. I believe that emotions are real, that everything in the universe holds energy that vibrates on some level. When we experience elevated emotions we increase the vibrations within us, and the energy needs to be releases somehow, creating tears.

I know I have cried most often in my life from anger, frustration, or unexpected joy because they were sudden floods of emotion that spilled over. I also think that when you are vulnerable, or worn down, or consciously connected to your emotions, you cry more, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. I have been all three lately, so the emotions have come pouring out.

And I think I needed to let it out, still need to let it out. And, luckily,  I have no plans to play baseball anytime soon.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

You Are What You Eat

This article hit home for me in multiple ways.

See, I grew up in The South. And in The South, we love our chicken sandwiches. I ate Chick-fil-A multiple times a week (there was even one in my high school). And in the South, we love "traditional" values and we love Jesus. As a result, I was raised in an environment full of homophobes and extremely religious Evangelists. I was taught that Jesus loves everyone- but the environment in which I lived told a much different story: Jesus loves you, but not if you're gay. And actions speak so much louder than words. I also dressed as the Chick-fil-A cow on a couple different occasions, and my Dad and I used to collect their cow kid's meal prizes.

I loved Chick-fil-A. I'm not gonna lie, just thinking about their waffle fries and bbq sauce is making my mouth water. My Mama warned me about the Devil's temptations! There were Sundays that I was bummed they were closed, but I understood. When you grow up in The Bible Belt, many businesses observed the "day of rest." As a youth, I had no idea that when I ate at Chick-fil-A I was swallowing hatred.

I've known for several years now that Chick-fil-A was "against civil rights for LGBT individuals and have even discouraged anti-bullying campaigns that seek to prevent LGBT teens from taking their own lives" and I have been vocal about why I don't eat there, before (I know I can't eat there now, anyway, but I wouldn't even if I could).

I'm glad this topic is coming up again and is becoming more well known, garnering widespread press when before there were only rumblings among the LGBTQ community. Do I think that by not eating there, I will change their stance? No. Do I think that writing this, sharing that article, or telling people that Chick-fil-A is homophobic will discourage others from eating there? Maybe. Do I think it's important to bring things like this up, so that people can be aware of what they're supporting? Yes.

I didn't choose to be Gay. I also didn't choose where I was born or how I was raised. But, I do have a choice in the kind of person I am and what I put my time and energy toward. In the last two years this has become more important to me than ever. It takes so much effort to hate others, and it poisons your own soul. Life is so, so short and I just don't have the time or energy to spend on hating anyone, especially for who they were born to be. I choose to love them, instead.

"Our integrity sells for so little, but it is all we really have. It is the very last inch of us." -V For Vendetta

My integrity is worth more than a chicken sandwich. You are what you eat, afterall...

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

It's Just Like Riding A Bike...

I've been working the past few couple months on re-learning how to ride a bike.

No, I didn't forget. But my foot can't do it the way I used to, because some of the nerves don't work and the muscles haven't worked in so long that they don't remember how to do their jobs. I have to remind my muscles how things work around here and since they're hands-on learners, the only way to do that is to repeat the motion over and over, until it's ingrained. Furthermore, I lost a lot of nerve function, so we're working with a limited staff, here. So I had to restructure the work load and I have to learn a whole new way to manage my movements. Sending the message from my brain, which is what most people do, doesn't work, so the information has to be delivered straight to the source, through manual labor.

This involves wearing what can only be described as a children's life vest, a dorky helmet, and shoes that look like flippers. I don't know if I'm learning to ride a bike or going deep sea diving. I am then situated on the bike and my chest and feet are strapped in. There is no escape. Then, two Physical Torturists help me push the pedals. Which means they basically grab me by the ankles and do it for me.

Now, I love pie. A lot. No, really. It's the love of my life. As luck would have it, my bike riding has been a big ole pie, and I've been eating piece after piece... only it hasn't been the kind that I dream about. It's been gargantuan pieces of humble pie. And it's been hard to swallow.

It's hard work. Really hard work. And I sweat, and curse, and cry. But I'm doing it. And I will keep doing it. Because it's worth it. It better be. And if it isn't, I'll be throwing eggs at every bicyclist I see...

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

I Forgot

Tonight I realized that I don't remember what it feels like to go through a day without being in pain. It's been so long that I've honestly forgotten.