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Sunday, June 29, 2008

RIP Cody

Though we have not been close for years,
I love you and I will miss you.
Though our paths ceased crossing,
I thought of you and wished you well.
For all our lives and childhood,
You were close to me like a brother.
Though I will not see you again,
I will think of you and what could have been.

I know your life had been difficult lately,
and I know you did your best to just get through it.
We all have sorrows, regrets and troubles,
and no one can know what your pain feels like but you.
I wish you peace now, Cody.
As you sleep your untimely sleep.

You were so young, so full of possibility
But now you can set aside your pain and be.
You can join your little one there
For I'm sure that your son
Will be happy to have you with him
Though it means that we all will miss you
We hope that you rest in peace in the end.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Focus on LOVE... put away anger and fear

Today while I was out with some friends at a Pride celebration, I had a flash of anger and fear toward someone who rode his bike through our family friendly and gay friendly festival. He rode through slowly, yelling at the top of his lungs saying things like "all 'a yaw nee da pray fa mercy own ya soes". In his less than eloquent manner of speaking, he saw fit to instruct us (the entire park full of people around him) that we were "headed fa hell if yaw keep dis up".

Sometimes, I get mad at myself for the way I react to such things. I get mad at people's stupidity, ignorance, insensitivity, and overall inappropriate words and actions~ especially toward people that are complete strangers to them. I get mad at myself for the sinking fear that punctures my gut; I get angry at the person for attempting to ruin a perfectly good day with friends; I get angry at myself for not speaking up or confronting the person; I get mad at the world. I get mad at society for how it is taught people that they can be the judges of other people. I get afraid for my safety and afraid that I won't be able to protect myself and my friends from this potential threat.

Not ten minutes after I encountered this individual on the bike, I was getting a soda at the stand near the outter edge of the park when I noticed the next "intrusion". Picketers were now circling the park where Pride was being held. (The crowd consisting of young and old, babies, toddlers, young children, tweens, teens, parents, grandparents, gays, lesbians, straights, bisexuals, transgenders, and anyone else who wanted to join in. This was a peaceful, fun, laid-back festival up to this point.... and it was again after they left, but it stayed with me. Things that I believe are unjust often to stay with me.)

These picketers were carrying signs, crosses, banners, and were inflicting a religious message at the crowd. Yelling "Jesus loves you. Repent and turn" was supposed to somehow affect the people who are well aware of what the religious world thinks of them. I, for one, am well aware of what some Christians believe regarding homosexuality. I understand they believe that they are somehow helping my community, the gay community, by protesting everything we stand for and picketing at every event we sponsor.

Why is it that people can't just live and let live, or live and let love? That's what we are talking about here.... people objecting to love and using God's word to back it up. In my opinion, that is ludicrous.

I am a Christian and I have been in church since I was born. Even as a little kid we're taught that God is LOVE and LOVE is of God. My only argument is - If God is LOVE and LOVE is OF God, then how can my love be wrong? Why is it that people constantly try to convince, persuade, force, manipulate and scare others into believing what they believe, when their actions seem to be in direct contrast to what they claim to believe. I go to church. I pray. I believe. And, I know what the Bible says.

Seeing the picketers/protestors walk around the perimeter chanting things at us really upset me. I want to go over and stop them. Stand in front of them and try to explain why they should stop marching and come over and join the party.

*I want to explain to them that I love my partner just as they love the person who they have been allowed to marry.

*I want to explain that I see my future they way they see theirs... growing old with the one I love and looking for ways to do good to benefit the world and others.

*I want to explain that I DO know Jesus. I have for many years.

*Althought I have hundreds of questions for Him when I get to Heaven, I know that I am a child of God and I KNOW that I know that I know... beyond a shadow of a doubt.... that I am God's creation, that He LOVES me as I AM and that I will join HIM in Heaven when I die.

*I want to explain to these people, who believe that they are somehow better than me because they were born straight, that I was BORN this way... I AM GAY. I am happy. I am me.

*I believe. I work. I cry. I think. I live. I breathe. I bleed. I laugh. I hurt. I wish. I need. I feel.... just like they do. I am NO different.

It's about time all of this back and forth "fighting for souls" business stops. The only people who need to worry about fighting for their soul are those who choose to use God's name to spread HATE.
God is LOVE. People bring HATE, unacceptance, evil, bickering, pain, fear, threats and sorrow. Let's put a stop to it! Focus on LOVE.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Always BAD news

Sometimes I spend my Friday afternoons catching up on world news. So much happens throughout the week that it is impossible to know everything important that is happening in every country on Earth.

Today, as I search through the articles the issues that jump out at me are the same ones that always have been a sore spot for me: WAR and DESTRUCTION.

"I destroy my enemies when I make them my friends." ~Abraham Lincoln

"America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter, and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves." ~Abraham Lincoln

< color="#000000">I don't know how to put what I feel into words sometime, surprisingly enough, so I am posting a painting that depicts how I feel about war, the effects on 'mother earth', with a nod to conservative politics who are pro-war and pro-God. In my mind, the two cannot exist together, yet 'we' fight in God's name, and waste prayers on requesting help to victory. Why is it that we cannot PRAY FOR PEACE. To find peace, we have to seek understanding. Understanding can not be found by violence!
"Peace cannot be kept by force. It can only be achieved by understanding." ~Albert Einstein
"What a cruel thing is war: to separate and destroy families and friends, and mar the purest joys and happiness god has given us in this world..." ~Robert E. Lee

Like it..... Hate it..... Comment!

My version of Pride

I had decided not to get too political on this blog, but by neglecting to talk about issues that are very important to me I am neglecting to address what is really on my mind right now.
(DISCLAIMER: Please note that my discussion of issues on this blog are my OWN opinions, beliefs, ideas, declarations and responsibility! Do NOT assume that others who know me are automatically in agreement.)
So, I just wanted to say:
In honor of Pride during the entire month of June, I am posting my very own artwork.

"L' amour des femmes" (upity? no... poking fun at myself)

This in-your-face "pop-art" style painting was one of my favorites to paint, though it was controversial in my painting class (and I'm pretty sure did it's part to cost me an A in that class - along with a few other pieces.)

Hope you enjoy! Have a great Pride and everyone be safe!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Inspiring Gifts

Thank God for Inspiring Gifts
This morning I found a bunch of unmarked CDs mixed up with some software CDs I had in a binder. Upon inspection, I realized that they were all CDs of a singer I know personally. These CDs included a few recorded voice lessons, a couple of performance ready pieces on CDs made for distributing as part of auditioning requirements, and a CD of pictures from a few of her performances.

Looking through the pics, I remembered each performance vividly (because I was there for almost all of them). I remembered how many people told her afterwards how amazing she sounded and how inspiring her voice is. Many people say her voice is a powerful gift from God that blesses them every time they hear her, no matter how many times or how often. Her voice brings a sudden chill, then the "warm tinglies" that you feel in those best moments of your life.

This inspiring voice is a gift. A gift from God that she cherishes, protects and uses at every opportunity.

Listening to a few tracks from each CD to accurately record what each one contained (because I thought I would label them for her and return them to her), I felt that same rush of "WOW" that I feel each time she sings. Even through lousy speakers or a little earbud headset, it is easy to hear why people are so in awe of the power of her voice. As she has been told personally from people in the profession, a voice like hers is rare.

This is a gift. A gift from God that she nourishes, inspects to perfection, and for which she is exceedling grateful- without fail.

Listening to parts where her voice teacher is "tweeking" her technique and explaining how to access the power that she holds, she is as unsure and afraid (as we all would be if something this grand were inside of us and we were under the constant pressure to make the most of it).

This gift is cared for, coached, trained, "tweeked", polished, and presented with months of detailed efforts behind every piece she performs. Her performances are captivating and when she sings it is impossible to take your eyes off of her.

This is a gift. A gift from God that she must put work into to properly express the amazing written music that was made for voices that some composers only dreamed of. Voices like hers.

With this amazing gift, she was also given an amazingly supportive family and an incredibly strong drive to become the best that she can be. With what she has been given, she expects great things from herself and pushes herself to constantly do and be better at her craft.

This woman has the drive to succeed. A drive unlike any other I have ever seen.

This is a gift. A gift from God. Her drive will be what puts her at the top of her game. While other great voices dwindle away and do not grasp hold of their possibilities, her drive, determination, hard work, faith and constant support will help her achieve all that she dreams possible.

Dreams are a gift. Gifts from God are precious and should be used to their fullest potential.

In this life, I am blessed to know someone who is an example of the successes that come from the wise use of God given gifts. I wish her all the best in her great endeavor over the next two weeks. She will be traveling to Vienna to take part in the final rounds of a prestigous international vocal competition.

I am proud of you! I am proud to know you! And we are all behind you all the way!

"Break a leg!"

You are an inspiration.

Thank God for inspiring gifts.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

31 Years in 31 Flavors

June 25, 1977 at 6:19pm, I came into this world. Looking back over the last 31 years, I can think of event that stands out from each year. These are a reflection of my life; they run a gamut of emotions, memories and sentiments. These are my life in 31 flavors:

If you care to read on, great... If not, I hope you have as many wonderful experiences as I have had in my 31 years. Enjoy life!

1- Spoiled by my Maw-Maw and a daddy's girl
2- Sister, Kelly, born on my 2nd birthday! cute birthday present, but she didn't mind me and
sometimes I wanted to exchange her ;)
3- Started taking dancing... quickly grew to LOVE ballet (and still do)
4- Loved ballet, won many pageants
5-Bad year... bad things began
6- Sister, Kayla, was born on my mom and dad's anniversary
7- Played baseball with the boys team
8- Mom sick while pregnant, first ballet solo
9- Sister, Kora, was born two days before my daddy's birthday
10-Sang in public for the first time at a festival
11-Learned to play clarinet, parents separated, bad Oct.
12-Had my first summer crush on a girl, parents divorced, learned how to drive
13- Began singing specials in church regularly, 1st boyfriend... discovering that's not for me,
crush on a female teacher
14- 1st year in marching band, learned more instruments, daddy had heart attack and was very
sick, met my favorite teacher- Mrs. Jacques
15- Daddy heart transplant, got 'saved', student government, active at school & church
16- lived with best friend's family, missed my mom and sisters, but did not fit in
17- drum major in high school band, won awards, graduated high school
18- dean's list first semester college, daddy died, no more dean's list, questioning sexuality
19- depression, suicidal ideation, grades dropped, met bff Steph, came out to friends
20- stopped going to school, went on tour with Continentals, came out to family
21- began a new risky job, made first real money, began photography hobby, 1st nephew born,
Mom and Kora in motorcycle wreck.
22- began taking pics for money, modeling, taking photography in school
23- moved to Chicago, worked as a flight attendant, traveled Ctrl & Sth Am. & tropics
24- bad experience in Chicago, moved back to La, 9/11 happened... world changed...
25- Brandon was born.... life changer! Went back to school, got my pilot's license
26- Had the best time of my life while Brandon was small... love him like my own child
27- Met the love of my life, learned about opera, started at UH, felt alive again like I hadn't since Daddy died
28- Got engaged, learned French, studied art, psychology major, things great in our little house
on Driscoll. Great year!
29- Graduated from Univ. Houston, BA Psychology, Minor Studio Art.
30- Began grad school at UHCL, MS Counseling program, didn't work out, switched to current
school in KY, and adjusted.
31- Enjoying life, well adjusted, amazing extended family, wonderful relationship. Life is grand.

I can't wait to see what's next. I have learned to take what I can from the good and the bad. Learn from my failures and thank God for the blessings!

Wisdom Earned

Over the last 31 years I have had an amazing, random, assorted, interesting, adventurous, scarey, surprising and incredible journey. Getting older is a part of life that none of us really looks forward to, but the wisdom that comes with living is well worth the pain. Just some of the things I have learned on my own.

If you feel that the life can be more.... go chase your dream!
If you feel knocked down and can't pick yourself up again.... make a new friend.
If you think you may never be happy.... make a change.
If you think that you need no improvement.... look again.
If you take life for granted.... visit the dying.
If you are healthy, fed, clothed, housed, and loved.... be grateful.
Time passes quickly.... use it wisely.
Life is the ultimate journey.... travel on.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Winding Paths of Uncertainty

Winding roads of Morgan County
This morning on my way to work from Morgan County, I drove through a long section of very heavy fog. The roads that I have become accustomed to traveling in the day and even in the night, became scarey to me because of my lack of visibility. Imagine the roads in the pictures above covered with white blankets of fog so thick that you can only see pink where the red tail lights are less than fifty feet in front of you.

Coming from Louisiana, the very flat south, I was not used to driving on roads that ran in between mountains and up and down curvy inclines. Sometimes all that separates you from the cliff's drop-off is a flemsy guard rail that looks like it has taken a beating several times before.

Driving is typically quite therapeutic for me and I enjoy my time alone to think, sing, and be at peace. While I usually delve deep into my own personal world, I was forced to remain in the earthly realm and focus on the road. This morning, the depth of my consciousness was denied and instead I stumbled upon a simple nugget of truth.

As I cautiously moved down the highway, I realized that going through a heavy fog is a lot like going through life. Thinking about these similarities brought about many empowering ideas. The following lists (yes, I like lists) are a few examples of how I rationalized that the two were similar. Perhaps not a profound message here for some, but for me, these are things that sometimes I need to hear... even if I must tell myself.

In heavy fog:

You can't see the road ahead very well at all.
You can't see your landmarks, or tell if you're close.
You may not feel safe.
You have to use good judgment when deciding to continue on.
It may be necessary to go another way.
You can stay on the road if you follow the center line.
You can get there in one piece if you take it slow and stay alert.

In life:

You don't always know where your path will take you.
You may feel lost and unsure even on the right path.
You won't always feel completely secure, but sometimes you have to be brave.
Convenient and easy decisions may not always be good decisions;
choose wisely.
Original plans may not work; it's okay to change your mind and
go a different way.
Keep your focus on your goals, plan to succeed, and enjoy your journey.
Determination to reach your goals and
attention to your priorities will be keys to success.

The above statements are all true as per my own experiences.

Sometimes I need to feel validated for the experiences I've had thus far and sometimes I feel the need to explain why things didn't work out as I had originally thought they would. Ultimately, I've decided that the journey of life is just that... a journey... with winding paths of uncertainty, steep hills of doubt, climbing peaks of pure will-power, and sometimes even long, straight, wide-open paths that seem too good to be true.

For all of you who needed a pick me up today.
Here's one for both of us.

Enjoy the entire journey.

Monday, June 23, 2008

OMG! Melissa ROCKS!

June 21, 2008

I saw Melissa Etheridge in concert! How awesome is that? Not only did I get to be at the concert, but I was able to sneak down to the front and get 10 feet away from her when I went down for a song to take some pictures of her up close. We had really great seats and had a blast.

She played a lot of the old great favorites and a great sampling of the songs off of her newer albums. I LOVED it. It was an awesome concert and I was so excited to see her LIVE!

All I can say right now is "WOW!" She is incredible.

Pics coming soon... I promise. (PICS ABOVE... as promised!)


I will write more later. I'm exhausted from an amazing weekend, and fear I may actually have to do some work today. :)

Friday, June 20, 2008

Childhood summers

photo taken by J. Grimes

I remember taking family trips as a child. Rather it was a weekend camping, water-skiing and roasting marshmellows, or a two week long vacation that covered six states and numerous famous national parks, monuments, or natural wonders, these were the best experiences of my childhood. Along with exposing me to many different kinds of people all throughout my childhood, I also developed a great love for traveling and learning about other cultures.

Thanks to my father's vast knowledge, spiced with his line of bull that was always fascinatingly believable and creative, I was always enthralled to know what happened at each site we visited and what the people were like, or why they were "famous" or "infamous". This became the backbone of my interest in history, which begat an interest in anthropology, geology, geography, civics, sociology and psychology. Looking back on my travels with my family and the uninhibited ramblings, trivia and opinions of my dad, I believe that this time in my life greatly affect the person that I am today. I will always be greatful to my parents for making it possible for us to travel to amazing places and have unlimited adventures, although we were on a budget so tight that it would not even be fair to call it a "shoe-string budget". Thanks Mom. And thanks Dad, wherever you are... I hope you are proud of me.

This summer has already been full of adventures for many people I know, and by the end of the summer there will have been many more amazing occurrences and even a few once in a lifetime experiences. Last month, my best friends shared a once in a lifetime experience with their son. Now, I may be biased, but this kid is one amazing little person! He is so smart, funny, charming, and adorable that it makes my heart hurt to think about not seeing him everyday (because he lives in Texas and I don't anymore). But I am so thankful that he has parents who want to show him the world and let him begin experiencing the world through his own eyes. I would imagine, though I have not yet been there myself, that Alaska is a fabulous place to experience at any age. I love you guys and be good to my boy. You ROCK, Brandon!

Traveling is the best way I know of to give your children the whole world.
They will appreciate those experiences for the rest of their lives.

Go on, people! Get out there and see the world with your loved ones!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Frustration to Appreciation

This morning I awoke at 6am, as I have been trying to do lately. I felt mostly rested and ready to start the day. I had a moment's peace as I stretched, got dressed to workout, and gathered my things. As I was brushing my teeth, unwisely using those moments to think about the things that completely frustrated me the day before, I began to get aggravated all over again. Walking to the gym, my thoughts were unintentionally focused on the problems with my newest commitment (summer volunteer project)and thinking about how unfair and unjust the world can be.
As I began to workout, I began to hear this little voice repeat "things will get better". I passed it off as "jiminy cricket" (conscience) trying to motivate me.

As I worked my way through my routine of machines and flexed muscles, I came to one of my favorite machines in the room. I like this machine the most, not because it makes me feel strong, or because of how hard it works my thighs, but because it is situated right in front of a window that looks out onto the foothills of the Appalachian mountains. Sitting in this seat, pumping iron and looking out the window...I could do that all day long. This morning it was especially beautiful with the fog laying in the hills, like a baby in a cradle. Draped luminscently over ever tree and valley, it gave a mystical and powerful feel to a landscape that I see everyday.

Realizing, in that moment, that a person in a particular place and time, with certain situations at hand, that that person has the opportunity to turn that plain, old, same-old-same-old hillside moment into one that is beautiful, uplifting, and magical. I finished my workout with a much more energized feel and a new enthusiasm for the day.

I've decided to remind myself of that moment everytime I feel my pessimistic nature taking over, and to try to remember to make a magical opportunity out of an ordinary day. I hope you have a magical day!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Lyrical Parts of Me

Opera.... a new passion
Developed through a special someone
The voice... a magical instrument
When it rings through the air,
It pierces your heart
And cuts to the very soul

Music... a longtime love
Brought about by my own longing for something in me to be heard
Singing, dancing, playing
music can affect mood and attitude
It gets into your core
And you crave its sounds

With every milestone,
A song is there
To lift, excite, comfort, and share
Connections to every emotion are made
Love is one that is often conveyed
Words can have limitations at times
With music there doesn't need reason or rhyme.

To the soul who relies on music to fill
all the feelings of life that just don't seem real
For expressing the things that you just cannot face
The role of music can not be replaced.

Moving in the right direction ~>

Progress is being made. Can you feel it?
Slowly, but surely this world is changing.
One person, one state, or one country at a time...
I see how possible it is for this world to know peace.

Today, I am especially ecstatic about the goings on in the state of California.
Though I live in Kentucky, and this new allowance does not directly effect me, it does greatly affect me. I am speaking of the occurrences regarding the official first day of legalized same-sex marriages that took place yesterday (Tues. June 17,2008) in California.

For thousands of couples in that state, it was a time to finally have that moment they had dreamed of for years. It sounds very simple a thing to have- marriage. However, for many people in many places it is still but a distant dream.

Picture it: Gathering your family and friends together in one place at a special time
Announce your love to the world and solidify your commitment to your partner
Become husbands or wives in the eyes of God, the government, and the people
Feeling loved, respected, proud, romantic, affectionate and validated as a couple

This is what I wish for same-sex couples everywhere.
Let your voice be heard.
You deserve it too.
Get active.
Support organizations that fight for your rights.
It is our responsibility to make the world a better place for ourselves and for future generations.

Love is worth it.

My Favorite Music