Tag Archives: Love

Joy is the Greatest Blessing of All

When I tell people that I lived in a homeless shelter, the knee-jerk reaction is almost always an immediate “I’m sorry!” And tell them “Why? I’m not”, which usually puts them in just enough shock so as to listen.

Living in the shelter, I regard as one of the most beautiful experiences in my life. I had nothing, they had nothing. And yet I had friends who had my back and not because they could get something from me, or get somewhere because of me, etc.

To experience that much honesty is so overwhelming and it has changed me forever. It was then that I stopped caring about doing what other people wanted or working for other people’s attention or acceptance (emotionally abusive marriage aside) because I could see the price tag of one’s actions.  It is for those reasons that I found a way to reach out and help others, it is my motivation to not only feel but also share those feelings.

I am blessed to have 5 best friends along with Kid. And I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that these relationships are honest and that we want nothing from or for each other but love and happiness. I know of no other blessings in life that are more valuable than these.


These last 7 years have been harder than I can put into words, but there is still the blessing of the friendships I have, the support they have given me, and after wading through the muck finding myself again and realizing my own self-worth. There is no greater blessing.

It is my personal belief that happiness is fleeting, joy is forever.  It marks your heart, it warms you in a cold world.  Happiness is a pay raise or going to a concert or having dinner with friends.  Joy is the love you feel from others, it is the love you have for your children, your family of friends, etc.  It is the feeling that “I’m going to be okay” in a devastating situation.  Joy is the permanent marks on your heart and soul that heals you, that warms you to the core, that keeps you going and can make you smile in a room by yourself when you think about and feel those moments all over again because they are permanently attached to your soul.

Joy is the permanent marks on your heart and soul that heals you, that warms you to the core, that keeps you going and can make you smile in a room by yourself when you think about and feel those moments all over again because they are permanently attached to your soul.

It is the feeling that “I’m going to be okay” in a devastating situation. It’s a person of faith’s feeling the love and serenity of their God.  Joy is the permanent marks on your heart and soul that heals you, that warms you to the core, that keeps you going and can make you smile in a room by yourself when you think about and feel those moments.


Dedicated to Matthew, Cheri, Dani, Steph, Bonna & Kid.  I wouldn’t be here today without all of you.


Stop the Press!

Once again WBC is planning to picket another funeral, and once again (rightly so) there is outrage and disgust.

Their latest target is none other than American author and poet, Maya Angelou; winner of the Presidential Freedom Award, Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word Album, Spingarn Medal, Marian Anderson Award, Langston Hughes Medal, Gracie Allen Award, Women in Film Crystal Award, NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work, Nonfiction, NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work – Poetry, Quill Award for Poetry…

And now winner of the WBC award for living the best, most influential life possible.

I used to get so angry and filled with rage every time I’d read or hear about their latest protests. Not anymore, I’ll tell you why.


First is this:


Isn’t that how life should be lived?  If you disagree with the WBC’s doctrines, than this should be a goal.


And then there are these….


Here are the Hell’s Angels showing their full might to prevent WBC protests at Newtown, Conn on Dec 22, 2012


Here are Missouri residents creating a human wall in the spirit of “Stand With Sam”, a show of support when Mizzou football star came out publicly as being gay.



Here’s a group of Texas Aggies in a show of solidarity.  Here’s a post from their alumni event page:

Westboro Baptist Church has announced their intention to protest the funeral of a fallen Ag.

Lt Col. Roy Tisdale

I.t is proposed that we respond with true Aggie spirit.

In response to their yelling, we will be silent. Like silver taps, like Bonfire Memorial.

In response to their signs of hate, we will wear maroon.

In response to their mob anger, we will form a line, arm in arm.

This is a silent vigil. A manifestation of our solidarity.

We must establish and enforce some ground rules, because Westboro loves pushing their constitutional rights down our throat

These three pictures are just a minute fraction of the pictures of peaceful gatherings that have taken place in response to the WBC’s public displays of hate.

The Westboro Baptist group (I refuse to reference them as a church) are a collection of only 40 very angry hateful people.  If there truly is a hand of God, I do believe they are doing his service based on two very important facts.

  • During the course of their membership they’ve not expanded or recruited.  Amazing really when you consider how much hate and hate groups there are out there.  Just 40 people.
  • In no other fashion has 40 people been able to bring together so many people joined in love and solidarity and kindness for humankind

As both a parent and a former child I know that sometimes subtle lessons are lost and it takes something extreme to get the point of the lesson across.  Further, I’ve realized that answering hate with hate is wrong.  These folks making these human walls are showing a display of love and respect for those they’re honoring, not displaying hate for those who are showing it. THAT is the correct path in my mind.

So when I see in the news that the WBC intends to protest I will smile… Smile knowing that someone has lived a very worthy life and smile knowing that a higher power somewhere is taking steps to ensure that enough people turn out to honor them properly, even if they’re using the 40 little ugly’s as tools to get it done.

In as much as I wish that the press would stop giving them the attention they so greatly crave, and I wish that the legislators would pass laws to abolish the protest of funerals….. at the same time I know that such things would also prevent hundreds and thousands of people from coming out in a display of solidarity, love and respect.

So once again, we have to be careful what we wish for.  Even the most torrential storms bring flowers.  Maybe if we could have these large displays of peace and respect on our own, we wouldn’t need the WBC to provoke people into doing it.  Just food for thought.


Compassion is the Key

Thanks to Politics with Jarred and Dave for the meme

It’s over.  Fred Phelps has passed.

Uncle George (Takei) is a wise man.  He’s so very right.  Death is nothing to celebrate. Acting as Fred Phelps and the other members of  Westboro Baptist Church (WBC) doesn’t mean that “paybacks” are achieved but rather that we have lowered ourselves to the behavior we condemned the WBC for.   It makes one a hypocrite.

I found out the other day that Fred Phelps used to be a civil rights attorney. Yep, that one took me a minute too.  When I think of civil rights attorneys, I think of those fighting for the underdog who’s not getting his due.

He was disbarred and then started this hateful nonsense that spiraled out of control only to be excommunicated by those who followed him for wanting to take a “less severe” approach. I wonder what happened to him to turn him into the person he became?

His own son has been estranged from him for 37 years and has been and LGBT rights advocate which I can only imagine cause great suffering for both of them.

While it’s tempting to channel every ounce of anger and rage that’s been inspired in you by the acts of the members of the Westboro Baptist Church, I encourage you – Christian or not – to turn the other cheek and respond in love.

If you wish to be “spiteful” and need to channel that anger then do so with positivity and love in mind – donate to your favorite LGBT charity or one that supports the families of soldiers that have passed away.

Remember that he is just one member, there are still others.  We must not become hypocrites and act as they have but rather set the example of love and fellowship.

Buddhist teaching states that we give thanks to the good AND to the bad, for they have set the most striking examples and teach the most.

While I cannot endorse a single act by the WBC, I do thank them…

  • I thank them for setting such an extreme example that forced people who were on the fence with certain issues to stop and say “no, this path is wrong”.
  • I thank them for causing people who would not otherwise give someone else the time of day to get out and defend a stranger.
  • I thank them for bringing people together, even though they were opponents, in solidarity against hate and prejudice.
  • There are less than 50 members of WBC but there are literally thousands that have stood up to them and acted against them.  For this I say thanks.

Though it was not your intent, you’ve managed to bring all these people together in peace, fellowship and love.  Not an easy feat during this very polarized time in our history.

Wherever your path may lead from here Fred Phelps, I hope the pain that caused you such anguish in your life does not follow you.  Whether it’s karma or judgement, may you see the error of your ways and still the good it created and may you choose the latter path always.

Namaste, I wish you all peace on your journey.


Love and Respect All of Your Family

Graphic Image Warning

Bring Dogs Inside

There is nothing more selfless than the love of a dog.  I say this to you now as a 2 cat owner.  I have been around dogs all my life and have owned or lived with one or more since I was 12 years old.  My parents used to raise, train and show German Shepherds and for a few years I was a professional obedience instructor. Needless to say I’ve had more than a few dogs in my life.

I love my cats, and they are my babies, but the “relationship” if you will has a totally different dynamic than that of a dog. Dogs are pack animals, when you bring them into your “pack” (a.k.a. family) they are there for life.  Their loyalty knows no bounds… as long as you treat them with the same respect of being a member of your family.  Dogs do not need to be trained to protect you, your family or your possessions anymore than anyone else in your home does.  They do it automatically out of loyalty and love.

Balor & Bonna

I’ve got a furry guy at home that isn’t even mine, but he’s adopted me just the same.  Why?  Because I moved in with his pack. When I’m not feeling well he knows it and looks after me.  Even when his parents are home he’ll come in and check on me periodically or even choose to climb in bed and take a nap with me.   We take care of him and he takes care of us.. because that’s what you do in a family.

Dog 10 Commandments

During these colder months, please take extra care with your furry family members and treat them as you would treat one of your own… because they are. That being said, please also keep an eye out for other animals that are not part of your home.  Sadly not everyone who owns an animal knows or wants to properly treat an animal.  Just like in cases of child abuse, we need to speak up for those with no voice.

The Detroit Animal Welfare Group have been doing daily sweeps in this harsh weather to get strays off the streets.  The picture below is a dog they found… crated and left behind an abandoned house.  This dog didn’t stand a chance to find food or shelter being in that crate.  Any of the neighbors could have called the police to get that animal taken care of without having to go near it.


Whether we’re talking about homeless people or pets, this weather is too harsh to be outside.  Please keep an eye out and offer a kindness when you can. Please consider donating time, supplies or a few dollars to help.

If you have a roof overhead, warmth and food on your table (or food bowl) and the love of your family – fur babies included – give them a big hug and a moment of thanks and appreciation;  know that you are truly blessed.


What is Family?

What is Family
This is a graphic that has been going around for a while now (origin unknown) showing the variations of what defines a family. Families come in all different shapes and sizes.  Sometimes it’s like a scarf knit from a single thread, and sometimes it’s like a patchwork quilt. While I think it may have been meant to be a little tongue in cheek putting Harry Potter and Batman on there.  To me though, those two speak the most.

I should mention that I’m a huge Harry Potter fan in both written and film versions.  Harry’s circle implies he was alone, and I would agree that for the first eleven years he was.  While Harry was raised by blood relations, they at no time acted as family should (no different unfortunately than some other families I know). The book readers will know more depth to that then just the movie watchers.

What Harry’s circle doesn’t show is Hermione, Ron, the rest of the Weasleys, Hagrid, Sirius Black, Professors Lupin, McGonagall and Dumbledore; and as we find out in the end…. Professor Snape.  They are the ones who truly are his family.

According to that graphic, my daughter’s circle would have been the one next to Batman, just  a mother and daughter. In reality, had you asked her to draw her own circle when she was younger it would have held five people; her and I, my sister and my parents.

My dad passed away shortly before my daughter started school.  My mother had his ashes placed in a beautiful decorative box with an engraved name plate.  Now, fast forward to the first parent teacher night in kindergarten.  The teacher addresses all the parents telling us that she had the children to draw a family picture and this was the artwork displayed on the walls. The teacher then gently calls me to the side because she’s concerned because my daughter drew herself along with three adult women and a box.  I had to explain that we had a multi-generational household with a recent loss.  I don’t know what bothered her more… the extra women or the box.

Family are those who love and care for us;  they don’t judge – although they are entitled to different opinions of our actions or behaviors.  They are positives in your life and always want the best for you.

I was raised as one of two children by two parents.  My parents are both gone now and my sister and I have taken different directions in our lives.  Some might call it estranged, but to me it’s no different than friends who grow apart over time.  If you look at Facebook though you’d think I came from a really huge family.

On Facebook I list eight siblings, none of whom are blood related.  I regard them no differently than if my parents had adopted them, they are my family.  I have well over a dozen kids that call me “Aunt” that I’ve either known from diaper-hood or have picked up along the way.  Some of them are just the friends of the adoptees who’ve adopted me too! (Yes, I’m talking about you Colin!)  I even picked up another Mom along the way, although sadly we lost her last year.

I love them all.  They are my family.

This time of year the word family gets used so very much; for some it brings smiles, it makes some cringe and others cry.  If your genetic family makes you feel alone or you have no genetic family, know that you’re in plenty of company. Contrary to what you may have been told, it is in fact truly your decision whether or not to include them in your circle. Celebrate the people that celebrate you.  (Yes, including the fur babies that love you unconditionally!)

This is Sophie. Isn’t she beautiful?  I think she was an actress in another life, she’s very dramatic, prone to posing and loves attention.
And this is Putter.
And this is Putter, also known as Bubby.  He is the  big baby that truly thinks that I’m his Mama.  (Which of course I am.)  

Fill your circles with positives and diet on the negatives.  Develop those relationships and that love with those who are on “Team You” always, to lend a hand or an ear or a heart when you need it and make sure you give it back and don’t take it for granted.  All relationships take work, not just marriages.  These relationships are more special in my mind because they are chosen, not obligated.  



P.S. If you need more hugs, please consider adopting a pet from a shelter.  They are full of hugs and kisses and have so much love to share, its amazing.  They’re great listeners, never tell your secrets, are funny, endearing and sometimes just downright adorable.  They even love helping you wash the dishes!  Okay, so they lick them, but they’re still happy to do it for you.  They love games (but aren’t good spellers generally, so avoid things like Scrabble.)

The Reason For The Season

Christmas lists get smaller

What is the reason for the season?  The answer will vary greatly depending on who you ask.

For the Christian, it is the celebration of the birth of The Christ.

For the Pagan, it is the essential step in life before the rebirth of nature.

For the parents of small children, it is the time that Santa makes his annual visit rewarding good behavior and delivering coal to those who were naughty.

For the science minded, it is the tilting of the earth’s axis as we make our annual rotation around the sun.

My father would have preferred to have the traditionally large Catholic family… lots of kids around the table.  My dad was an only child and mom was the youngest of two (with a very large age difference, which sometimes made her feel like an only child).  Try as they might, they were only able to have the two of us.  Due to their many failed attempts at a larger family, they were very appreciative for the two of us.

My mom was raised Lutheran.  As an adult she believed that if God is everywhere that she could commune anywhere, that church was man-made.  She preferred to spend her time in nature to reground and center herself.

My dad was raised strict Roman Catholic; church every Sunday and every holiday, fish on Fridays, schmutz on your forehead for Ash Wednesday Catholic.  The only child of two very reserved parents; it was a quiet, orderly house at all times.

Because my parents were married in the Catholic Church that meant that my Mother had to agree to raise her children Catholic.  Honoring her commitment (and to keep her in-laws quiet) my sister and I were baptized in the church; I got as far as my first communion.

Shortly after, my dad’s job transferred him from NYC to Chicago, away from family and friends and for him, away from the church.  The only time we went to church after that was when my grandparents came for a visit.  He held his beliefs, but agreed more with my mom that God was found in the beauty of nature.  We spent weekends at the park, every chance we could and eventually she talked him into camping – a deep love that they shared for the rest of their lives.

Since it was just the four of us, we remained very tight knit.  Holidays especially focused on the appreciation of the fact that we had each other.  While most parents cringe often during their child’s high school years, my dad was in heaven.  I had friends that came over frequently and a boyfriend that just about lived there due to his own bad home life.  Pop couldn’t be more thrilled!  A noisy house filled with people.

As time progressed, Pop loved having his daughters having boyfriends and eventually husbands.  More people in the house!  Come the holidays and everyone was invited, literally.  Folks from the office, friends, acquaintances, the mailman, even the people he commuted with on the bus to work.  We always made sure that we had untagged “generic” gifts under the tree for the unexpected visitors… a tin of cookies, a giant Hershey’s kiss, a travel coffee mug.  No one was going to come for Christmas and leave empty handed.  It wasn’t about getting things, it was a way of saying thank you for being a part of our lives and our celebration.


My mom’s absolute favorite Christmas movie was How the Grinch Stole Christmas.  Mine has always been Scrooged (followed by the Grinch).  It’s only with the hindsight of age that I realize that my parents raised us to have a Dickensian Christmas (as in Charles Dickens ~ A Christmas Carol), to know what it took so much effort for Scrooge and the Grinch to learn.

So what is the reason for the season?  Well for those of us who celebrate a more Dickensian Christmas, it is about appreciating family, communicating love and sharing with others.  I want to take the opportunity to thank you for being part of my celebration.  Enjoy and celebrate your loved ones this holiday season.