Fear and Loathing and Respect?

I finally decided to plant my flowers (that I bought on sale a couple of weeks ago) before they totally bit it in their little containers. While we were in the yard, digging in the soil, I scattered a few grass spiders from their hiding places among the rocks. Now, if you knew me more than five years ago, you might expect me to FLIP OUT. But the first spider to run across the grass in front of me tucked itself in a little hidey-hole and just watched me. I realized it wasn’t bothering me so I wouldn’t bother it.

When my husband came over to help dig the hole I told him to watch out for the spider and gestured at it with my muddy gardening glove. He, thinking he was coming to my rescue, raised his spade over it to smash it and for unexplainable reasons I put up my hand and made a loud negatory noise. (You know, the one you make to your spouse and kids that isn’t really spell-able, but sounds kind of like a buzzer.) He looked at me incredulously and I, as surprised as he was, said, “I don’t know why the hell I just did that, I guess I’m just tired of all of the killing, and it’s not hurting anything. Let it live.”

He shrugged and we carried on. For the rest of the planting I pondered how my phobia, my EXTREME fear and loathing had somehow over the past few years mellowed into respect for a fairly interesting creature.

Once upon a time I was about as arachnophobic as a person can get. When we moved into this house it was crawling with the biggest grass spiders I’d ever seen in my life. (Just ask my parents or best friend, Andrea.) I didn’t sleep for the first four nights in the house because of the fist-sized spider we found in the bedroom just before we moved in! Somehow over the years, though, I learned to be brave for my kids when they’d ask me to catch a spider and let it go outside. If there is one thing kids can do, it’s make you a braver, stronger person. I learned to not fear them but be intrigued by them. Before we’d let them go in the rocks we’d watch them in the little bug catcher. I started finding myself admiring the orb weavers that came around each summer with a little trepidation and a lot of awe.

So I pondered Glennon Doyle Melton‘s post about how proximity makes us less afraid of people and I thought, “Huh. Whaddya know. It even works with spiders.”

So there ya go folks. Get close to someone you’re afraid of, someone you loath and start to learn about them. And if you can’t do it for yourself, do it for your kids (or the WORLD’S kids). I promise keeping them in mind will make you braver and stronger.

P.S.- My newfound mercy for spiders does not extend to black widows, brown recluse or spiders that fall on me from anywhere. That would just be asking too much.

Voices: Molly – A Mother’s Story

In the first couple of days following the Orlando shooting, my mama heart ached with the parents who lost their children and the ones whose fear for their children was taken to new levels. To simply say that parents of LGBTQ kids had their fears for their child’s safety renewed would be an understatement.

Please take a moment to hear Molly Lavacek, the mom of one of my friends and colleagues, tell about her reaction. She originally posted it to her FaceBook page and with her permission, it’s now here for you to experience: Continue reading Voices: Molly – A Mother’s Story

Voices: Amy – Your Silence is Deafening

My friend Amy Flower (what a cool name, right?) wrote this post yesterday. Her post is like many I’ve seen in my feed recently, filled with hurt and even completely valid anger.

Please take a moment to hear Amy out and lean IN to her pain instead of turning away from it. I know it’s sometimes hard to look at someone’s pain. It can be as painful and uncomfortable as looking into the sun, but unlike looking into the sun, when you look away your vision will be clearer. You will see and understand things you didn’t see and understand before, and this is how we cultivate empathy and change the world.

Your silence is deafening. I see your lack of acknowledgment of the Pulse attack in Orlando, but watch your devastation over the toddler and singer from The Voice dying. I agree both are horrible tragedies, one a terrible act of violence. However, how can you completely ignore 50 lives being taken and over 50 more being changed forever? Why are you too busy posting photos of your everyday life or memes as if the world and our country’s history didn’t just change forever? There is so much action to be taken around this tragedy. If there is one thing we can learn from this, it’s that life is short. If you don’t have the dignity to show compassion or respect for the victims, then I don’t want you in my life. This act of hate is more than just another massacre, it’s a magnification of the injustices faced by a whole group of people. I am one of those people. My wife is one of those people. My friends are those people. My co-workers and some of my family members are those people. I see you. I see your apathy and it is absolutely crippling. Sometimes a lack of action and silence is far more hurtful than one could even imagine.

It Could Have Been Us

I know I said this week I wanted you to hear from voices of my LGBTQ friends and their parents, that my thoughts and feelings needed to wait, but sometimes my thoughts and feelings consume me until I can express them. Last night I couldn’t sleep so I posted the following to FaceBook. Many friends asked if they could share and I’m more comfortable sharing it this way than making my post public. So, stay tuned and I will continue adding stories from friends this week, but first, I had to get something off of my chest:

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It’s 3:40am. I’ve been awake since 1:30am. My mind can’t rest. I toss and turn in bed and think, “What can I do? How can I help?”

Straight friends, I know many of you don’t understand why the shooting in Orlando was such a big deal to me and LGBTQ people outside of Orlando. Even my husband didn’t quite understand at first, bless him. When I told him I would be postponing my plans to go shopping on Sunday so I could check on my friends and take care of what I consider to be MY community, every bit as much as my church community is MY community, he gently asked me why we would be so devastated and physically distraught when it didn’t happen here. I knew empathy is not his strongest point and sometimes he has to have feelings explained, so I gently looked at him with tears brimming and said, “It could have been them. It could have been me. It could have been here.” Continue reading It Could Have Been Us

Voices: Chris’s Story

This morning as I reflected on what I felt like needed to say about the Orlando shooting and the effect that horrific event and the aftermath are having in my circles, I realized the voices I want many to hear are not my own. Since I’ve been doing advocacy work for and with the LGBTQ community for the past couple of years as a straight ally, my Friends List on FaceBook (and in real life) is quite diverse and my FB feed most likely looks a little different than many of my straight, white (and also not trans) friends. My feed is FILLED with the shock, anger, fear, pain and resilience of a diverse community. Sure there are things that I want and need to say about this all, but I have the privilege and the platform, and with that the responsibility, to be able to amplify the voices of those from whom the world needs to hear. Continue reading Voices: Chris’s Story

My Earliest Messages on Diversity

We have an activity in our GLSEN* Professional Development called Earliest Messages. Through it we explore our biases or acceptance of concepts around diversity based on the messages we received from our family/friends/teachers/society growing up. Because I’m often asked why I do this advocacy work and HOW it came to be that I’ve always thought diversity should be celebrated when I say, “I’ve always thought diversity should be celebrated,” I’m often thinking about the earliest messages I received.

Sometimes something brings back an early message in it’s entirety and I think, “Aha! That was it! That was my earliest message about…”

Continue reading My Earliest Messages on Diversity

Show Love, Take Action!

Dear Kansas Friends,

People need your help. I’m begging for your help (and I don’t often beg). At the end of this post I will give you some concrete ways that you can help, but first, let me explain:

I awoke from a dream this weekend in which I was crying hot, angry, frustrated tears. In the dream my face was drenched in them and I couldn’t wipe them all away. In the dream I felt completely and utterly defeated because despite my every attempt to advocate for people, many of my own friends didn’t see many of my other friends as people who deserved the same rights and freedoms that they themselves took for granted. I was beyond frustrated that I didn’t know how to help move more people toward action. Then I woke up and I was still heartbroken and frustrated, because it wasn’t just a dream.

Today I have great news, though! News that makes me hopeful! There is a chance for you to show love and take action right now! Continue reading Show Love, Take Action!

Rising Out of the Ashes

With so many reminders to “Never Forget” today, I’ve spent some time considering the things that I want to remember. I think as with any anniversary of death, loss, trauma, that there is a process that one must go through to be able to remember what’s worth remembering. When you’ve been terrorized, it’s natural to feel like a victim. Crushed, defeated, sad beyond words, broken. That is no place to stay, though. It’s terrifying and lonely. So it’s the moments when you rally and move from victim to survivor that are worth remembering. Continue reading Rising Out of the Ashes

Living, Loving, Embracing the Journey