Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Leaving Alaska

There have been a few misconceptions about my move, and my feelings about moving, that I would like to clear up. Moving is difficult and stressful, and no matter how exciting it is there will be a lot of sadness experienced, especially in those who you leave behind. I have been getting a lot of negative comments when I tell people I am moving to California. They range from "You are going to hate it! You will be back", to "You must be unhappy and you must hate Alaska". I sometimes get, "I'm so excited for you and I wish you the best", though it's much more rare than the former. The four misconceptions are that I hate Alaska, I am unhappy, I don't care about people I love (not quite that strongly, but an underlying current of this idea that people are more important than the place you live), and I will hate California.

First of all, I don't hate Alaska. FAR from it. I was born and raised here. I have lived here for 42 years, minus one year in Hawaii when I was 8 years old, and six months of travel in 2005/2006. Alaska is in my blood and I have deep, deep roots here. Alaska is one of the most beautiful places in the world. My family has been here since 1952 and has a very big presence in Fairbanks. My grandfather was responsible for many of the planning aspects of the Fairbanks Memorial Hospital opening up in Fairbanks, in 1972; he was on the Permanent Fund Dividend Board; he was involved in our local rotary and many other things. There is a "Story Garden" at the local library named after my mother, who was a children's librarian at our local library. She was "Mother Moose" to many, many children in our town. My father ran a business in Fairbanks until his retirement. I could make many lists for many other family members. There are many, many people that I love who live here. The point is, I LOVE Alaska. I really do. I just don't want to live here anymore. I think there is a big difference. My body strongly dislikes the cold, I don't enjoy winter sports (not to mention that it never gets warm enough in the summer to enjoy summer activities the way I like to) and the things I love to do are not as available here. My lifetime dream is not possible to fulfill here. My children are also moving out of the house - two out of three don't live here anymore and have zero plans on ever returning. Alaska is just not the place for me anymore.

I like to think of myself as a pretty happy person. I am definitely far from being unhappy. Before 2005 I would say that I was somewhat unhappy. I hated living here and I would complain incessantly about it. I never let the people around me forget that I did not want to live here. We traveled the country for six months and we stayed with some friends of Martin's for a few days along the way. The wife seriously complained about where they lived and expressed how miserable she was often. I recognized myself in her. I left there totally ashamed of myself. How could I do that to my family? What a miserable way to live. When we came back to Alaska I decided right then that we were making a decision to come back to Alaska, I owned that choice, and I was going to decide to be happy. And I did. I turned to my yoga practice, eventually getting certified to teach. Teaching yoga turned into a desire to get a Group Fitness Cert, which lead to many other things in the general field of health and fitness. I let go of the need to control, spent lots of time with my kids (which I always did), and grabbed as many opportunities that came my way, including a 10 week trip with my kids that included 7 weeks in Central America. I have been very HAPPY. I think there is a difference between being unhappy and a desire to have something different. Just because I want something different does not mean that I am unhappy. It's simply the desire to live out dreams that I have, experience more, and do the things that make me feel alive.

People are very important to me. VERY important. Most people who know me well know this about me. I am very social and I put a tremendous amount of time, energy, and importance on the people I love and care about, especially family. Someone made the comment to me that it didn't matter to her where she lived, but that it was the people in her life that made life worth living and enjoyable. I agree somewhat. I sat with that premise for a while because I wanted to examine my own feelings about whether that is true for me as well. It's not. I have people I love and who love me ALL over the place. They are spread out everywhere. If it was only about the people I would have to live in a different place every day of the week. What makes life worth living for me is being able to do the things that make me come ALIVE, literally and figuratively. It's not here in Alaska. When I am in other places my whole being changes. Even Calista has commented on it because she notices. I am not one of these people who go on vacation and after two weeks say, "That was great but I am excited to get home". Nope. I am usually filled with a sense of sadness on that plane ride home. That does not mean that I won't grieve horribly for the people who I am leaving behind and for all the amazing memories that I have made in this place. I absolutely will. I am tearing up just writing about it. There are many people who I have grown to love and I have family here who I spend a lot of time with and ADORE. It is going to be extremely difficult to leave them behind.

And finally, I will hate California? And I will definitely move back to Alaska? Hmmmmm, how presumptuous of people who know nothing about me. You KNOW that I'm going to hate it there? Especially the traffic, right? These comments are actually starting to frustrate me. First of all, they usually come from people who know absolutely nothing about me and second of all, what is wrong with just being happy for me? I'm living my dreams people!! Contrary to popular belief around here, there are other lovely places to live besides Alaska. And there are a LOT of people who love living in California, including three of my very dear friends from Alaska. There must be something good about it!! We may hate it. Or we may love it. Who knows. Either way, we will experience something new and exciting and we will learn much from it. One thing I know pretty clearly though - it is not likely that we will ever live in Alaska again. Even if I was missing it and tempted to move back, I would not. I have two children who don't live in the state (and have no plans on returning) and I want to at least be close enough to them to be able to visit with them. Often.

The purpose of this blog? Please be happy for me. Even if you are sad at my leaving, be happy that I am happy and excited. It's hard to have my excitement dampered by other's comments. I will be excited either way- there really is no way to damper that. It does not mean that I don't care about you. I do. I will be back to visit. I promise. And my intention is to create an amazing place for you to come visit me as well. Stay tuned.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Love is love is love is love is love............

As I was laying on a table the other day, receiving treatment for some bulging discs in my neck, my doctor made a comment about a billboard he had seen that showed two gay men holding hands in front of a cruise ship. He said, "I'm happy for them and all but, no, I don't need to see that." My usual response to comments like this is, "Well, fuck you, my son is gay!" When this issue of gay rights comes up in my life I get very fired up and passionate. I've been working very hard on pausing, listening, and acting instead of reacting. I didn't have any kind of response, which gave him a clear hint that the comment bothered me. It seems rather presumptuous of a person to assume that the person he/she is speaking to has the same opinion. He left the room and I sat with it. I rolled it back and forth through my mind, coming up with all kinds of kind responses that I could have given him. My final thought before I left the office was this: "Not one thing I say today is going to change his mind about how he views gays. Not a single one of his opinion's is going to change how I live my life, how amazing my son is,and  the fact that my son deserves to love and be loved (along with every other human being on this planet). In short, his opinion didn't matter to me.

The comment did set off several days of ranting in my head though. I don't understand why two men holding hands would be repulsive to anyone. Why would two people being kind and loving towards each other, traveling, and having a good time bother anyone?! I don't think he would have reacted to a father and son holding hands, two brothers hugging in a warm embrace or kissing each other, two friends of the same sex traveling together and having a good time. What is the difference?

I then go to this argument about whether being gay is a choice or not. I know for my son, it is not a choice. He is not sexually attracted to the female gender. He is attracted to men. He struggled for years to come to terms with the fact that this attraction was not going away and that at some point he needed to decide to accept and love himself anyway. The world will treat him differently, no doubt. Seriously, why would someone choose something that was going to make half of society scorn them? I think judging a person for being gay is like judging a person for having brown hair. And then I thought of some friends I know who happened to fall in love with someone of the same sex but don't necessarily identify with being gay. So maybe for some it is a choice of sorts. What it comes down to is who the hell cares and what damn difference does it make? Every human being on this planet deserves to love and be loved. Period. Why do some people care so much about how other people are living their lives? How other people choose to live their lives is none of my business and it doesn't effect my life one iota!

And this could be applied to anything. I think when a person is truly happy and satisfied with their own life, they won't have the time or energy to judge what someone else is doing with their's.

"Because one believes in oneself, one doesn't try to convince others. Because one is content with oneself, one doesn't need others' approval. Because one accepts oneself, the whole world accepts him or her." `Lao Tzu

In many of these arguments, what the bible says about the issue is brought up. First of all, I don't believe the bible is nonfiction so for me it's a moot point, but let's pretend for a while that it is. Several years ago my sister, Ren, brought up this question to me: "How could God create and condemn in the same breath?" That question is the very thing that began my journey away from religion. It caused me to do a lot of contemplation about the God and religion that I was worshiping. Anything that causes people to hate, rather than love should be closely examined. I just couldn't shake it off. How could someone worship a God that created this beautiful human being and then condemned him/her as wrong? I personally believe that the few verses that bring up homosexuality are grossly taken out of context, but I don't have the energy to argue that one today, especially when I view the bible as myth anyway. Jesus never brought up the subject but he sure did have a lot to say about love. I don't think a lot of people understand what love really is. Some of the words that come up in the dictionary include, warm attachment, enthusiasm, devotion, and unselfish loyal and benevolent concern for the good of another. Hmmmm, that sounds a bit deeper than just tolerance. If a person truly thinks that there is a God and that God truly has an issue with someone he created, I think it best to leave the judgement and condemnation to him, ya?

My doctor's presumption that I would be okay with his comments, or that I would agree with him absolutely floors me. He has known me for long enough to know that I probably wouldn't agree. Sadly, parent's presumptions that they won't have a gay child is even more astounding. I had to change my own attitudes as well. I had never even given it any thought. Like most people, I suppose, we would make comments, "What about _____. You could ask her on a date." I made huge assumptions about my children's sexuality. I look back now and it cuts me to the core to think that in some ways I was unintentionally making him feel like he had something wrong with him. If a parent makes it clear that he/she has a problem with gay people and their child is gay, sadly they will never know, or when they do find out it will probably not be on good terms. Children need to know that they are unconditionally loved and supported. I've seen children try to  come to terms with their sexuality without their parents support and it is often a tumultuous process. The sadness, depression, and self-hatred that can surface is heart breaking. To feel like the people who should support and love you, greater than anyone else, actually find you repulsive has to be one of the most difficult things that a person has to face. It was difficult enough for my child, who was unconditionally loved and adored.

My child is one of the most compassionate, loyal, loving human beings that I have had the privilege of knowing. He loves philosophy, travels and experiences really cool things, teaches children to swim, saves lives, is genuinely concerned for the well-being of others, helps me out whenever I need him, does not gossip and judge others, takes care of himself through health and nutrition and tries to educate others, is passionate about wanting to make the world a better place for the next generation, spends a lot of time cultivating friendships and taking the time for other people, goes out of his way to make sure the people he loves know that he loves them, has many many interests and is generally ALIVE. Being gay is one of the last things on the list of things that define him. If you don't know him you are sadly missing out. I wonder how many amazing people that other's will not have the privilege of knowing and learning from because they have strong judgments towards them. I suppose we are all guilty of this in one way or another.

I realize that most people are a product of their upbringing and have accepted the opinions of others without every dissecting whether it's their own or not- religion, parenting, politics...... the list goes on and on. I hope more people can start examining their attitudes and opinions. Children are not born with hatred and judgment, they learned it. Be very, very careful what you are teaching your children. Love feels so much better!

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Dharma Love

I've decided to start blogging again. I started a new blog since one of my blogs was more for family happenings and the other one was more about recipes, health, and nutrition. This one is all about my own musings on life.

Many years ago my friends started calling me Dharma. They said I reminded them of Dharma from the show "Dharma and Greg". Coincidentally, that was my favorite shows at the time, as I wanted to be like her. She was a modern hippie chick who was spirited and heartfelt about loving without judgement and being loved. Fast forward a few years and I discovered a passion for yoga. I had just escaped what I felt was a prison some people call religion, and I was beginning my journey of SELF discovery. Yoga enabled me to explore spirituality without the confines of religion and I loved it! At one workshop that I attended, the instructor was explaining this concept of Dharma. One thing she mentioned was that our Dharma was "that which we were compelled to do". I've started paying attention to what those things are. Through it I've been able to live more authentically and be more authentic, break down walls, protect my own energy, love deeper, let go of judgements, and just learn to LOVE!

So, there you have it.............Dharma Love. I look forward to sharing these thoughts in my head that just want to burst out on "paper".