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.

3Splitz Farm

Going to Seed

I knew it was coming. I saw it on the horizon. But still, I was sad when it happened. For so long, I was just hoping and hoping to see the color when I drove around the bend. I was hoping the zinnias would keep going long enough to make the girls’ homecoming flowers. So much holding my breath, watching the weather, wondering if it could be. Until, at last, they made it!

Once they made it, I knew it would be the last time I would harvest them for the season. It was golden hour, the sun slowly slipping behind the mountain. I keep repeating to myself “thank you, thank you, thank you” as I admired their beauty one last time for the year. Their work was done! It was time to let these amazing babies rest and go to seed.

It’s not a pretty process. After months of deadheading, pinching, ripping out and stomping on weeds, trying to make way for the blooms to thrive, now the whole idea is just let the field go wild. Let them turn brown and overgrown. Let all that energy spent blooming just run its course. Let the seeds drop where they may. What was focused and intentional care and maintenance becomes just a reckless field of nature.

Then we hold our collective breath and see if the seeds will take again next season. My home patch of zinnias has doubled each year even though seeds were only planted once. We are hoping for the same abundance to take at the farm. We have faith that what has been so beautiful will return with vigor and abundance when the seasons turn again.

For now, it’s rest time for the zinnias. The dahlias will follow shortly after (but their hibernation is a little more complicated!) And the work of these flower farmers will focus more on paper than dirt, more on dreams than digging. We will rest and restore our energy, getting ready to return next season with renewed joy and color.

adventure

24 Hours

There are 24 hours in a day. We all get to use those 24 hours as we wish. Or depending on your age you may have some limitations.

What can you do in 24? How much fun can you pack into those hours? How much could you complete of anything? How much stress would you have? How much food? How much heartache? How many memories?

Each 24 hours is different for sure. Sometimes when I put my head down to rest at night I think did I really just do all that in 24 hours? Sometimes I even surprise myself. That’s the beauty of my life. Every day is a challenge. It’s up to me to overcome obstacles and make strides. Then rise again for the next 24 hour episode.

The current 24 hours is road tripping, rest, work, eat, plan, tennis, parent, grocery shopping, and a bunch of other mundane tasks. Some I like more than others but I’m going to add my twists and personal touches to the day to make it exciting. I will also have some first-time memories tucked in the hours.

My last 24 hours were memorable. Time with the mini. Time with friends. New sights. New adventures. New places to eat. So many memories. What I reflect on is that I changed my normal. I changed my scenery. I let go of the have tos and did the want tos.

I’m looking ahead to a week of work and have tos and saying I’m going to get all this done and more because at the end of the week I have a new 24-hour time with a different group of people. A different destination. A different kind of adventure. I already know there will be memories made. I already know it will be fun or I wouldn’t have said yes. 

As I look back to think about 24 hours the week before I can truly say I had yet another experience in a different location with different people doing different activities and being equally happy. There is a common theme surfacing.

Take 24 hours a week and make them momentous. Change the scenery some way some how. Engage in activities that are fresh and new or repackaged for a different outcome. Visit with others. Some may have you giggle one way while others make your belly hurt you laugh so hard.

Take the walk with a friend. Whisper to your confidant. Jot down the memories in a journal. Smile a lot. Tell somebody how much they are valued and/or loved. Cherish the memories today as they may not be available tomorrow.

Life is precious. Time matters. You are important. Living my best life while avoiding anything and everything (including people) who want to snatch the life out of you. My 24 hours of happy time has no room for sour attitudes.

dare to be different

Let Your Freak Flag Fly

I love a theme.

And I love that I have friends that will embrace a theme.

For birthdays, Christmas parties, the CrossFit Open, or just a February Saturday, we choose a theme and run with it. 80s, Superheroes, Country, 70s, Retro Fitness, Fancy Tea Party, College Colors, ‘Merica, Roaring 20s, 80s Prom, themes make it fun, at least for me. They let my imagination run out to play.

When I first started CrossFit, I was a capri and very long flowy 2XL tank top kind of girl. I tried to hide in plain sight. I wouldn’t wear shorts at all. Now I’m all about patterned booty / bicycle shorts, even in the dead of winter. I like some color, I like some spice. They make me smile. My friends at the gym inspired me to just wear them, be comfortable, and have fun. I don’t really care what anyone else thinks. If you’re offended, look elsewhere!

Do I get looks when I go to the grocery store wearing my mermaid shorts and open-back tank? Yup. But, what other people think of me is none of my business. This is a huge mindset shift for me.

Same goes for our theme parties. When it was time for roaring 20s night, I tried on so many flapper dresses and none of them felt right. So I dragged out my high school drum major uniform. We did a Cole Porter show way back in 1995 and I wore a pinstriped zoot suit with paisley suspenders. Miraculously it fit, so in a sea of flapper dresses I was the woman in a suit. I held my breath when I walked in to the restaurant, wondering what other people would think when they saw me. Then I walked through the tables and realized it didn’t matter. How did I feel? Honestly, under the nerves I felt kinda sassy, a little fresh, and way more comfortable than in a dress. Now I embrace being different in situations like this.

The other night at a birthday party our theme was retro sports / fitness. We were going out to play a physical and competitive game. Most of us are CrossFit folks, so we all have our share of fitness wear. But retro…hm. Then conversations led to “athletes vs. mathletes” (and I clearly fall into the latter category.) As with many themes, I just like to have fun with them. Thinking of the 70s and bright colors, I picked some rainbow sweatbands, white shorts with rainbow trim, and a retro NASA shirt (for the mathlete) with a rainbow background. Oh yeah, and tube socks. Did I look silly? Yes. Did I fit the theme? Yes. I felt eyes on me in the restaurant but after my initial self-consciousness I didn’t really care. Yes, I realize that some people identify rainbows with the LGBTQIA community. I am an ally and have no fear of being seen or known that way. And again, what other people think of me is their business. I honestly do not care. Let em look! Let em think whatever! Moving on!

It brought back memories…I had a wild streak in high school and college that eventually faded away under piles and pounds of conformity and conservatism. Only in the past handful of years have I started to embrace my individuality again. My personality and identity not just in relation to others…as a mom, as a daughter, as a spouse…instead, really just my personality within myself. Who I am. Me.

I ran around and looked silly. I had fun and embraced my goofy side. I was just in the moment, letting my freak flag fly! Thankfully I have friends who join me in that.

Be who you are! As unconventional and unique as that might be. Be yourself out loud! You never know who is watching and feeling encouraged, emboldened, even a little less alone. Someone in your circle may be buried under the weight of other people’s expectations. Hiding their light. You never know who is inspired by you embracing who you are. Many don’t have that courage or are looking for it.

Let your freak flag fly!

celebrations, challenges

Change

Change is in the air for this girl. Change is in the air most days for this girl. Life is full of twists, turns, uphill battles, downward spirals and so much more.

To me, change is part of the beauty of life. The variety life affords us all. The endless possibilities. The chance to explore in different ways. Discovery of what’s new. Embracing what’s ahead. Never sitting in the past saying would have, could have, should have.

Change is the only constant today yet many fear change. I embrace change. Heck I even embrace the chance of change. I savor the opportunity to embrace whatever the change is. I look forward to the learning opportunities that come with any change. I feel inspired by change in many ways. I evolve through change.

Many may not understand a big change. Even a small change can raise an eyebrow for some. It’s okay. Change is in the air. Change is in air most days for all of us. What’s your perspective on change?

Just another random thought post to spark your mind.