challenges, dare to be different

Don’t Say Gay

“I am not gay!”

…the cry came from behind the swings. Then the young man came streaking across the playground toward the tall trees. “I am NOT gay! I AM NOT GAY!” Screamed with the terror of trying to outrun the boogie man, a cloud of cooties, a wild black bear and the abominable snowman all at once.

This summer, I am teaching third grade students. They are 9 or 10 years old. This is one interaction I witnessed this week on the playground.

I started the calm walk over to talk with him and the other boys who had been taunting him.

“What is going on?” I asked them. The conversation quietly began. One sheepishly admitted to calling another one gay. The one who used the word hung his head as he fessed up.

I hear over and over again that if we talk about gay families or students in elementary school, we are exposing them to this content way too early. Here’s the thing this playground taunt reminded me: THIS SO-CALLED “MATURE CONTENT” IS ALREADY THERE. It is already in our schools.

Some of our students have same-sex parents. They have siblings who are part of the LGBTQIA+ community, not to mention aunts, uncles, and grandparents. Then there are relationships they see in the media. Some of our elementary students even know they are in one of these groups, even if they don’t have the words for it yet. The vast majority of kids in our schools already know about this through observation and experience, just as they know about heterosexual relationships from a huge variety of sources.

Here’s what I know: if adult professionals in schools avoid talking about this topic at all, it is allowed to run rampant with misconceptions and ignorance. When I told these young men (really, they are boys) that being gay is not an awful thing, it’s just how some people are, their eyes popped and their jaws dropped. I could tell they had not heard that before.

I can’t allow students to run around on playgrounds and call people gay as if that is the worst thing they could be. How would a gay classmate feel, or a classmate with same sex parents?

Is it any wonder the rate of suicide attempts and suicidal thoughts is higher among LGBTQ young people if their identity is used as an insult? And adults just stand by and watch it happen?

I get it…It’s not always easy to talk about for people of many ages. One of my daughter’s friends who came out in the past couple of years saw me at a party recently. She said “Miss Beth, you forgot to wish me a Happy Pride Month!” I hugged her and wished her Happy Pride Month with a smile. I love seeing her come into her own and embrace her truth.

Then I showed her my watch face, which made her eyes light up. I have my Apple Watch set on one of the new Pride faces. It may seem little, but even small signals to young people that they are seen, accepted, and embraced for who they are matter. And I will continue to say it and show it in whatever ways I can.

adventure, dare to be different

B is for Burlesque

Today was a new adventure with friends. An introduction to Burlesque dancing. A fun way to get in a little fitness and channel one’s inner dancing queen.

We had boas, gloves and dressed in all black. The first 4 steps seemed easy enough. Then another four. And another four. Would I remember them all? We practiced each segment a few times. Added music. Strung the steps together, until it formed a dance.

Such a fun process. Lots of giggles and plenty of firsts for each girl in the class. The instructor was fun and mixed in well with the group. The music helped the flow of linking the steps or at least it did for me.

We even had an ad lib portion at the end to express yourself any way you like. That ended up being pretty interesting. When the evening began I had no expectation. I was set to embrace the opportunity. It was worth it. I would recommend this adventure to both males/females. Anyone can learn burlesque. Let me say that again or louder for anyone reading this. You can do burlesque. It is for every shape, size, gender person. You just need to embrace the movements.

When you need something fun to do, something out of the ordinary, look for a dance class. Maybe you are more conservative and would like to start with ballroom. Maybe you are more of a hip hop kind of person. Whatever your fancy, take a lesson. See how you fare. 

If you never try, you will never now how much fun you can have. Life is about living. Remember to step outside of your comfort zone to try new things. I for sure never thought I’d be honing my skills as a burlesque dancer, let alone writing a blog about it.

We might have even thrown on a wig or two to add some flair to the big show. Ah, wonder what my next adventure post will entail…

 Until next time.

celebrations, challenges, dare to be different

Sidetracked

I got sidetracked today. I was going one place and got stuck in traffic for 2 hours going 7.9 miles. I had enough of not moving. It was kind of shitty but I was riding topless, in my Jeep, making me able to work on my tan while jamming to music and people watching from a slightly perched view.

While waiting patiently, I voiced my frustrations to my co-pilot who clearly didn’t check the map adjustments before we got locked on a highway in gridlock with no exit in sight. I could have continued, but instead of hovering in the annoyed phase my mind drifted to an alternate plan. I got sidetracked. My mind wandered. A new plan was in motion.

A quick picnic in the park. A short hike. A spontaneous visit with grandma. The plan was on a whim but it turned out to be magical. Lots of giggles. A little sweat in the heat. Smiles for hours. Funny photos. Tons of memories.

This is a story of how to turn a lemon of a day into to a sparkling lemonade kind of day. On a whim. On a shoe string budget. All I needed was a little time. A new perspective. A fresh look on the same day. Sometimes U-turns are the best turns to make. 

Sidetracked on a Saturday was one for the record books. It might have been the longest 7.9 miles of my life, in terms of how long it took me to go the distance. It might also be one of my favorite spontaneous excursions mainly because grandma was my co-pilot. The hike was one I have done before but this time I did pushing a wheelchair. I got my exercise for sure but it was a pleasure ride for my sweet passenger.

She smelled the pine trees. She enjoyed the fresh smell of honeysuckle. She saw some deers in the distance. She listened to the stream flow below the embankment. Her change of scenery and enjoyment of nature is one I will remember. Reflecting on how I got sidetracked makes me giggle. I guess I was really meant to go to point b instead point a. It just took a major traffic jam for me to realize this. 2 hours later mind you.

Never underestimate the fun going off course can be. Try the long route some days. If you don’t have a Jeep or a convertible, rent one for a day or a few hours. Riding topless gives you new perspective. The fresh breeze. The smells in the air. The freedom while you move from point a to point b.

I also got ducked in my Jeep today. A little boy ducked me and he was so happy he got to meet me when he ducked me. Another benefit of Jeep life outside of how often I can say I rode topless today.

celebrations, dare to be different

What a Drag Brunch

I recently got invited to attend a Drag Brunch. I couldn’t resist going. I just had to see what it was all about. What to wear was my first question. I couldn’t wait to add this adventure to my “new to me” activities for this year. Off I went with friends. No expectations just prepared for what might be.

Upon arrival there were colorful boas on each table. Great for a quick photo opportunity and some giggles. The feathery accent piece got old real quick for me. It was itchy and left stray feathers all over me. Off that went. Food and mimosas came out while you socialized and listened to music. I’d call this the kill time phase while the queens got into costume.

This was the Drag Queen who managed the show. Her name was Cake. Her introduction says what’s a party without cake? No party is a party without cake. Clever. Funny. Applicable. Cake rolled in at 6 foot four and this Queen left her mark on the audience. From big hair to her fan snapping movement. She even broke a nail in her first act and had to have it reapplied because it’s a much needed accessory.

This queen was a jumping diva. She jumped off chairs and flipped in the air. The pure acrobatics and energy were nothing short of amazing. The hair flips even seemed to match her choreography. The details the divas displayed.

The costumes were very intricate and went with the personalities of the performers. Real showmanship was viewed on this day. I could see such a sense of pride in all they did. It was funny to hear many had real day jobs and this was a weekend gig. Made me think about who is behind the makeup and costumes.

Another fun experience for my record book. Many more to come but I do enjoy sharing this experiences on the blog in case others want to venture off to try something new or for those who won’t they at least get a glimpse from my lens.

Have an amazing week. Be the queen that you are. Embrace your inner diva. This statement may sound sexist but since a drag queen is well a drag queen I’m applying this statement to all genders.

challenges, dare to be different

Experience

I recently gave up control to gain control amidst a new experience as a parent. Sometimes we need to go with the flow and trust the process to encourage learning. 

Learning through experience is extremely valuable in my book. The reason I state this is because books can teach us lessons but experiences allow us to live the lesson. We need both to understand how to navigate our complicated world.

As a young adult one must fail. Sometimes repeatedly. As sad as it is, it’s part of living experience. Living may be different than what was learned in a book. For instance they may teach you in school how to balance your bank statement but they may not drill an available balance on an atm receipt. This experience may be valuable to find out about insufficient funds.

Financial experience is super important. Many young adults know how to use Apple Pay or Venmo but can’t write a check. Many don’t know how to properly address and mail an envelope. These are cherished skills I learned early on that seem to be the distant past yet young people need this skills to solve problems when the digital age isn’t functioning at 100%.

Farm life is another experience. One I was exposed to as a youngster but not one I embraced. However today I see the value of the experience a farm can provide. Hard work. What nature can provide. So many transferable skills can be learned on a farm. Oddly enough farming 101 isn’t a high school requirement. Neither is basic auto maintenance. Additionally, life skills 101 really isn’t a class either.

My blog today is about what we have to do to nuture those around us. The young kids. Our kids. Children who lack resources to give these basic foundations. We may need to offer experiences to others. Coaching of sorts. Non traditional opportunities for as many as one can impact.

Another experience is sitting down with an elderly person. Chatting with them. Listening to stories about their youth. Learning about what life was like without an iPad. Without dual income households. It’s an experience many need to have.

Today I want you to think about experience. The word itself. What it means. How you can integrate experiences to those around you.

For me, I grew up as an athlete. I understand a team dynamic. However many adults I know missed this experience. They lack certain competitive components or teaming characteristics. That’s a teaching opportunity. Similarly that non-athlete may be able to pass on another experience to you that you missed along the way.

In the next 30 days I am going to think about the word experience and see how I can impact others or how I can be impacted by absorbing new knowledge via an experience. Most recently I learned about camping through experiences. Some good. Some not so good. I still learned and observed through the experience.

Now I am off to experience my life some more.