On this journey of mine, I’ve learned that negativity is one of the most powerful ways to cripple creativity, halt forward motion, and strangle my dreams of living the kind of life I yearn for. I’ve also learned that I can’t control other people’s negative comments and behaviors or their discouraging words. Generally, trying to change other people is at best exhausting, and at worst futile. Big dreamers like little ‘ol me have better ways to spend their energy. I’ve noticed too that even well-meaning loved ones can be the first up to bat when it comes to nay-saying. I’m learning to take their good intentions and leave the rest behind. At the end of the day, it’s my own negative thinking that has the most potent influence over my life, and I’ve learned that there is one guaranteed approach to a more positive mindset. It’s an utterly simple concept – gratitude. Today, I’d like to explore the important link between gratitude and passion.
Wow crazy blood moon lunar eclipse, I don’t know if it’s cause I’ve got my moon flower (aka red tent time, aka hide me in a cave and leave me the hell alone) but I am awash in some kind of insane explosion of creativity. I can barely sleep, and for once the steady reel of tragedy and fear that plays on a loop in my brain is matched one for one by awesome ideas and inspiration. If it wasn’t so exhausting, I’d want this to be the norm. But I have three kids, one of whom is an almost-three-year-old, so I need my sleep, okay? Here’s a perfect example of what my interior looks like right now, and it all started with a picture:
This, my friends, is for the dogs. Literally. I snapped this while strolling through the tourist haven that is Niagara-on-the-Lake. At the time, I was delighted to find such a sweet little piece of pretty outside a high-end home goods shop. It seemed like a cute gesture on the part of the owners. Clever marketing, thoughtful. There’s even a fresh, live, flower. Lucky dogs!
But then, I also realized how I’d been struggling with my stroller to get in and out of nearly every tiny, over-packed store. Whenever I have a hard time with the stroller, I immediately think of people who use wheelchairs and scooters. If it’s a hassle for me, I can’t imagine how frustrating that must be for them. In a place like NOTL, there’s more wheelchairs and walkers than there are strollers, believe me.
Here’s the next layer. I live a blessed life. We are far richer in spirit than we are in our bank account, but we can make ends meet. The store that extended such a thoughtful gesture for the four-legged companions of their customers is way beyond my means, and frankly, even if I had that kind of spending cash, I can’t imagine ever throwing it around it in such a place. Which makes me think of the people who aren’t as lucky as me. Who stay up at night wondering how they’ll make their very limited resources feed their kids. They barely have enough, and every month is a struggle in making the most of very, very little.
Which sends my thoughts across the globe. Where people in plastic boats are drowning with their children because all they want is a safe life for their families. They live each day in terror, not just in Syria, but in so many other places. Here’s their reality; an over-packed dingy that cost them their life savings and may mean the death of everyone they love is a better alternative to the place they once called home. There is no sense of ‘home’ or ‘safety’ for so many of our brothers and sisters out there.
Never mind their fucking dogs.
So, what to do? Do I hate myself for my initial delight in this pretty display of hospitality. No, I can’t. I’m an artist – when I see something lovely, I like it. However, lovely and beautiful are not the same thing, and it’s what’s beneath the initial impression of loveliness that really counts for something. It’s pretty, I smiled, but what else is in there? How can this relatively shallow gesture mean something more? How can a ploy to lure in customers turn into something greater?
It starts like this, I think. With our ability to reflect, ask questions, examine our own position, our values, the meaning behind everything that moves us either to smile or to weep in desperation and helplessness. Enjoy the silver platter, but be damned well sure you know how lucky you are that you can, and then add your voice to those who want so much more for everyone else. Our world is shrinking, and we have more power as a people than we ever have before. It’s fine to appreciate the snapshots of pretty that turn our heads and lift our spirits, but let’s be more. We can all be so much more.
First Kisses, Beautiful Ladies, Heart-Wrenching Tributes and Happy Families
Happy Monday, Lovers! And Happy St. Patrick’s Day to all of my Irish friends, especially my LBGTQ Irish pals.
I’m coming down off the high of what I’m calling ‘Toddlerpalooza”. Two of our favourite families joined us for a weekend of boisterous little-boy fun. It’s also been a slow start back to school (homeschool, that is) post March Break.
My week is shaped by many variables, but here are the online snippets that spoke loudest to me last week. Grab a whiskey or a gay-friendly beer and enjoy!
First Kiss by Tatia Pilieva
If you missed this video last week, please do watch it. In fact, if you watched and enjoyed it as much as I did, please watch it again. It’s inspired plenty of parodies, and some controversy when people realized it was an ad for an indie clothing company. This video features the first kiss between various strangers, and I don’t care if these people were models or actors, even when you’re on set kissing someone for the very first time is nerve-wracking and delightfully awkward. This video is beautiful, and funny, and really, really, really sexy. Here it is, and I’ve included a link below with a great post from the filmmaker who created the piece, explaining her inspiration and defining the project.
Here are Tatia’s words on this piece from Huffington Post:
Gordon Parks’ Showgirls at Work and Play
This Life gallery from a 1958 edition of the magazine was sent to me by my dear friend Josh. It’s eye-candy of the most exquisite and decadent variety, and captures just the kind of behind-the-scenes magic that I will miss when I retire from show biz.
Just When You Thought You Were Over Deadwood
I’ve tried for years to make peace with the fact that Deadwood, the mind-blowingly fantastic HBO series, was gone and would never return. Nothing I have seen in the world of television can touch this show, which is why I’m usually just fine to go without TV. I thought the hole in my heart had been filled with books, and more time for knitting, when along came this tribute from New York magazine’s TV critic Matt Zoller Seitz, which has made me want to sit down and watch the entire series for a fourth time. His compelling video essay can be found in this great write up Roger Ebert:
News on the Family Front
I saw this next video posted on Facebook, and I thought the timing was uncanny. When asked why we went public with the story of our non-conventional family, my partners and I came up with the perfect response. It’s simple – we think everyone with love in their hearts and the ability to create a loving home should be able to have a family. I don’t know if the people at Honey Maid care as much about family rights. Maybe they just realize what a wealthy demographic gay families are, unlike some idiot Arizona law-makers. At any rate, enjoy this touching commercial, and some witty remarks from Slate:
We’re Not Brave, These People Are
Our community of family and friends, and even a few kind strangers congratulated us on our bravery for coming out publicly. I don’t think we’re even a bit as brave as these incredible young parents. Heather Walker was outraged when photos of her son Grayson James were pulled down from Facebook because they were ‘offensive’. Her little boy was born with a severe deformity, where he was missing part of his skull, and his mamma shared photos of him without his tiny little cap on. She and her husband knew that when their baby was born, they would only have moments to enjoy him, and that he was not going to survive. Still, they cherished and loved him, and then had the courage to create this incredible tribute video of his few precious hours of life. We should all cherish each moment of our precious lives, and our precious families. I hope this will inspire you the way it inspired me. I think these parents are heros because they faced such a devastating tragedy with so much grace and love.
This video is highly emotional, so kindly be your own judge about whether or not you’d like to view it.
Sending you all light and love, and wishes for a beautiful week ahead.
Happy Sunday! Was it a fun weekend?
Why not take a page from Ayla and spend the day in your pjs writing in your journal or working on your scrapbook? Or just curl up with a good book and a cold drink!
Whatever you do, remember to take some quiet time to be grateful for the simple, wonderful blessings in your life.
Next Wednesday, the movers arrive to pack our home in a truck and we’ll leave our life in the city behind. I’m not sure that I’m totally ready to do that.
Yesterday I had some dental work done, and I hate visiting the dentist so absolutely. We tried Nitrous Oxide for the first time to help take the edge off, and it was nice, but not what I was hoping for. I was imagining more of a trip, but it really just felt like dental work after cocktail hour. Relaxing a little bit more did allow me to go on a little journey… I tried to distract myself by thinking about things that make me happy, and of all the things in my life that I enjoy, none can compare to the time spent with my children and our family. Simple moments together, doing anything, are the moments that I cherish most. As I lay there listening to the high-pitched scream of the dental tools grinding away at my teeth, I wanted to hold my baby and watch my daughters try to make him laugh. Sacrificing life in the city to take stock of our business, save some money, pay down some debt, and make a new plan for moving forward will allow so much more time with our children. Our decision to homeschool will create such freedom and flexibility. If Daddy and I can dream up income streams that require all three parents to work from home, we really will be living the life we dream of – one where we can experience the wide world with our kids and work from anywhere. Each and every decision I make needs to be one that makes my family better. These decisions need to give us more time together, and enrich the quality of the time we spend. I need to make sure I’m my best self, so that I can give them my best, and so that as they grow older they will remember this time we have together and know how much they were loved. All of these things I cling to, trying to make a mark in the world – my writing, my performing – none of them are as important as the mark I make on my children. This morning, I carried my computer upstairs from the breakfast table to my room so I could get some quiet work done. A quarter into this post, I got stuck, knowing what I wanted to say but not sure how to frame it. I distracted myself by sending an overdue email to my theatre troupe, and then Nekky came with a soft knock at my door. He showed me this video, and it said everything I’d been trying to say. Life does not begin after we’ve paid off a credit card. Life is not when we get that job we’ve been dreaming of. Life is not when we’ve saved enough, or when we can finally take off and travel. Our life is now. Noisy breakfast tables, nap times with grandma, towers of boxes packed with memories, sleepless nights, feverish toddlers, sticky fingers and homemade popsicles. My home will be rich and rewarding no matter where it is as long as the five people I love the most are in it with me. Our memories are made every second of each day, and the greatest thing we can do for our children and ourselves is remember that at least once a day. Thanks Daddy, and Stephen for the beautiful reminder today.