Never Silent. Always Fierce.

Today is the national Day of Silence, sponsored and supported by GLSEN and Lambda Legal. On this day, students are encouraged to enact a form of silence as a way to draw attention to the silencing effect that anti-LGBTQ bullying has on LGBTQ and allies in our schools and communities. This movement started in 1996 and has become a poignant active demonstration of the damage that harassment and bullying inflicts on the LGBTQA community. I whole-heartedly understand, believe in and support the soul of this movement, but I don’t think our LGBTQA community needs another moment – much less a day – of silence.

Here, in my little corner of this big ‘ole cyber universe, I’m jumping up and down, waving my hands wildly in the air, perched on top of a massive stage and yelling at the top of my lungs with a powerful PA system at my disposal: my community – all of the people who know and love and support me and my beautiful LGBTQ family led by two mamas and raising a sweet-hearted 8-yo son, all of the LGBTQA people who are part of our immediate world and all of those who only share the common bond of identifying their sexual orientation, gender  identity and/or expression on the wide and rainbow-colored spectrum, all of the people and communities who believe that the tenet of equality is meant for every individual – yes, THAT community of people, MY community is here and we are here with purpose and conviction and, guess what? We are not here in silence. No, honey! There is nothing silent about us. First of all, we enjoy talking too much because we have OH SO MUCH to talk about! You see, our lives are blessed and bountiful and beautiful and far be it from us to sit in a damn corner and not partake or share of the AMAZINGNESS that this world has in store for us. Secondly, we have been silent for far too long and I don’t believe that silence serves us or our purposes in a healthy way any longer. Marriage equality, LGBTQ rights and societal adjustment has become the emotionally ripping and gut-wrenching and hope-inspiring moral themes for our world to take on in the past twenty years. These discussions – movements – milestones – societal changes are not going to advance and continue within a shroud of silence; we are in a position of strength and progress and we need to keep on talking. Loudly. With Conviction. From our hearts and about our experiences. We need to introduce our families. We need to tell about our days. They need to know that we are their neighbors and doctors and advisors and teachers and flight attendants and police officers and coaches and Boy Scout leaders and Girl Scout cookie customers. We need our voices to be strong and constant and eloquent and always, always there.

So, my friends and enemies … if you want silence, fine – go be silent. I, for one, and those that surround and love me and mine – well, hell. To be honest, I don’t think we could be silent even if we tried. And we sure as hell don’t want to be. For all of the students and supporters participating in this Day of Silence, know that we love and support you and we are taking part in the movement to acknowledge the harm that bullying and harassment which so many of our LGBTQA community endures, but we choose to be a bit louder in our action.

LOVE IS LOVE, people! And no one gets to determine which love is valid and which isn’t. And if I or mine witness anyone bullying or harassing anyone you damn well better believe that we WON’T be silent – but we sure as hell will be fierce.

xoxo

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Reset and Resettled

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Spring Break for Shortstack just wrapped up. We’re all back to school and work and the daily grind. But while he was gone, Panda and I decided that we would give our bodies a bit of a break from the coffee and fun beverages (read: cocktails and wine and beer) and processed foods and the sweets. All the stuff that I enjoy consuming. It took me almost twenty years to learn to enjoy how to eat so now that I do,  I’m more than a little reluctant to relinquish that enjoyment. But I knew that my body needed a bit of a reset. It had been years (as in, before I gave birth to Shortstack) since I last took the time and energy to detox and cleanse my body. My sister-friend had suggested a cleanse that she had tried last year and Panda and I decided we’d give it a try while the boy was in Arizona for his Spring Break visit. We jumped into this cleanse – neither of us were particularly looking to lose weight, we both just wanted to give our bodies a rest and to re-calibrate – and prepared to hibernate a bit as we made our way through this process. Within the first day I was achingly missing my coffee. And food. And – more so – cooking food. And then the headaches began to set it. And then the ickiness began to creep through my body. Oh, it was crap. I’m nowhere near the coffee-addict that I had been pre-Shortstack days; I usually drink one or two cups of coffee in the morning. There are days that I go without. But – oh good lord! – the caffeine withdrawal headaches that descended upon me were debilitating. They induced migraines – all of which were more painful than they had been since my surgery last year. Tears and head buried under the pillow.  And my body felt like crap. Lethargic and achey. So not okay. But I kept on because – although I have crappy willpower when it comes to health-related things, my wife freaking ROCKS the willpower realm. Day 1. Day 2. Day 3. By Day 4, I was ready to commit a felony. Yes – it was that ugly. But our breaking point was when my willpower-determined wife came home from coaching Shortstack’s soccer practice looking pale and flat-out done. Within moments I was in the kitchen, taking stock of what we had available to cook, chopping and throwing together a light veggie-chicken tortilla soup to break our self-induced fast/cleanse/detox/torture. We were pau (done). And we were fine with it. We didn’t quite make it the recommended length of 10 days, but I was fine with it. I gave my body a break. I purged much of the crap out of my system. And my body took a little bit of downtime to reset and re-calibrate.

And then I returned to enjoying the little tasks of life – in our home – in my kitchen – which put me at ease. Plotting meals, gathering random ingredients, chopping, sauteeing, frying, pouring a glass of wine, tasting and seasoning. Serving my wife a meal. Sitting down to a dish with food that I made myself, to our tastes, with our favorite ingredients and enjoying the edible creation that I made. And life returned to normal. And normal is what I enjoy.

Shortstack made his way home after his visit to Arizona. We were pleased that he enjoyed himself away but quickly realized that the last couple of days before our return to the daily routine would be dominated with all of the Spring Break-assigned homework that was not completed while away. As frustrating as it may be for our kids and for ourselves to find homework assigned during vacations and breaks, we know it has to get done. So, after having a serious conversation with our 8-year-old about his duty to take care of his kuleana (responsibilities) even when there are other, more desirable things to do, we all settled in to HOURS of math worksheets (32 of them!) and reading time. I think most parents are impressed by their kids – and when parents see their kids working hard to take care of business, parents tend to get all mushy with pride. Gotta tell you – Panda and I aren’t any different. We were so damn impressed with our boy – he sat his butt down, and for the next almost-6 hours, he worked his way through all 32 worksheets. And then he spent a couple of hours reading. What a kid we’ve been blessed with! By the end of that study session everyone in the house was ready to get-the-heck-out! We packed it up and headed to the beach. Swimming, playing, floating, grilling, talking, relaxing. Resettling. That was the order of business for the rest of the day. Oh! And sitting in a pile of togetherness as we watched another magnificent sunset.

And now we’re all good to go. Reset and resettled and ready to take on all that the rest of this semester has to offer. Yes. I know. I function on the academic calendar. Just deal with it. I finally have learned to do so.

I hope you enjoy the pictures as much as we enjoyed the sunset. All of them were taken with my phone and without a filter. Sometimes I love technology!

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All’s right with my world once again!

 

words for the boy

I am a pretty strict mama. I know that. I love my tattoos, but I am absolutely set against the boy getting any tattoos until he can 1) afford them himself 2) choose a tattoo with purpose. But I’m thinking that I am going to gift him this tattoo so that it’s embedded in his skin and he carries it with him for life …

“Do not let where you are change who you are.” 

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Doing the work …

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I accompanied Shortstack’s class on a field trip adventure yesterday. Along with a bus-full of 7 and 8 year-olds, we spent the day hiking through the old-growth forests of Makiki Valley, fishing in a stream and bug collecting. I’m sure you can guess my least-favorite activity (yes, the bug collecting was not to my liking) but the rest of it … the rest of it fed my soul yesterday. There was a lot of breathing done yesterday. And smiling. And giggling. And exploring. And cuddling. And, by the time Shortstack and I got home and showered (love the mud but it was good to wash it off) I was ready to shut my head and body down for a much-needed rest. Sleep has been eluding me lately: deadlines at work, books that demand to be read, Shortstack leaving for his spring break travel and being away from us for a week, a story that is pulling me for attention, to-do lists merry-go-rounding in my head … all of it has made for restless, crappy sleep. But yesterday afternoon, Shortstack and I curled up in a cuddled-up pile and we both fell fast asleep. As in, neither of us moved or noticed when Mama Panda got home. Ukulele lesson was almost missed. Dinner ended up being Subway sandwiches. That kind of dead-to-the-world fast asleep.

So a reminder to my soul – when you’re restless and wound up, go for a walk under the trees and through the mud. It’ll do you good.

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Here Today, Gone to Maui

Hawai’i is a unique state. Not only in personality, but also in geography. Being an island archipelago, Hawai’i offers up seven islands which are inhabited year-round; four of which are often considered main tourist destinations: O’ahu, Hawai’i (aka the Big Island), Kauai and Maui. Molokai and Lanai are also tourist destinations, but as they are smaller in size, they are not often as overrun or specifically targeted by visitors. Kaho’olawe is not currently inhabited full-time (at least not to my knowledge, so take that with a grain of salt).

Our family island-hopped over to Maui several weeks ago. It had been years since Panda and I had been last on Maui and we had never been together and it was Shortstack’s first visit. We took advantage of a 3-day weekend, mileage and decent hotel room rates to enjoy a mini-break from daily life. {Sidenote: I am a firm believer that one (of the many) keys to a successful marriage and family life is being able to travel well together. And, thankfully, the three of us fall into an easy and relaxed traveling rhythm.} One of the most enjoyable lessons that Panda has taught is how to enjoy a vacation. I was the crazy type who used to plan every waking minute of vacation time; the sites to be seen, the places to eat, the adventures to be had. And, usually, by the end of the vacation, I needed a vacation from vacationing. Panda has helped me change that approach a bit … we had one activity planned: going whale watching. Other than that, we were going to play it by ear with the goal of just enjoying some family time, having a few adventures, getting some relaxation in, having a few drinks and soaking in the differences between islands. I am happy to report that the trip was successful on all counts! And, yes, relaxation was achieved … drink in hand, falling asleep under a coconut tree while Shortstack made friends and swam rampant in the hotel pool while whales played their games off in the distance.

Warning: an overwhelming number of pictures below.

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{comfy travel clothes, plane entertainment and the DS which isn’t often allowed by the mamas makes for one happy little traveler. all the while, Mama Panda trying her hand at sudoku puzzles while this mama looks on thinking that is far too much mental energy expended during vacation}

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{quick trip up the lower slopes of Haleakala to Makawao for some – obviously healthy – baked goods at Komoda bakery. seriously – donut on a stick! there’s no way that you won’t have a smile on your face!}

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{another short jaunt up the Haleakala slopes and you end up at the Tedeschi Vineyard in Ulupalakua. one of the few local wineries in the state, their Ulupalakua Red and the Maui Splash remain a couple of my personal favorites. the winery is small – okay, super tiny! – but the aunties who welcome you are knowledgable, fun and full of aloha. the grounds are beautiful and the panoramic views will allow you to get a better lay-of-the-land. warning though – the road is windy, so if you or yours suffers from motion sickness, beware!}

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{yes, being married to my beautiful wife has also taught me haw to enjoy downtime on vacation. this was post-nap, pre-cocktail. my wife may have been on her third cocktail – but, who’s counting?!?}

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{there’s whales in them-thar waters! do i sound like i pirate? i really want to!}

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{i think it’s fair to say that relaxation time is now my favorite time of all!}

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{my loves. being that we wanted to drive as little as possible and one of the wonderful benefits of staying in a resort area is that eateries were within walking distance.}

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{these two are always in each others’ pockets. that’s just the way they like it. in the foreground is that blasted kendama. which, one of these days, i WILL master! until then … don’t stand within a 3-foot radius of me while i’m practicing.}

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{maui sunrises and sunsets never fail to steal my breath. i swear, you will only find these sky colors on this island!}

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{whale watching should be on EVERYONE’S bucket list. yes, EVERYONE! you need a reminder of how little us human beings are? go watch whales. you will be awed. and humbled. and inspired. and, if you’re wise, you’ll shut up long enough to recognize that natural connection and communion between us and the natural world that cannot be explained or easily understood. seriously. do it if you ever get the chance!}

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{i spy. my heartbeats.}

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{keeping an eye out … or a few.}

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{THAR SHE BLOWS! well, actually, we think they were all he’s instead of she’s … as they were likely a bunch of boys trying to impress the girl … who was swimming away and probably not even noticing their antics. another life  lesson for the Shortstack  is in there somewhere, i’m thinking.}

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{fluke down}

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{young scientists and naturalists in the making? hopefully experiences like this will help them understand the importance of being guardians and advocates for our incomparably beautiful natural world.}

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{post-whalewatching, we decided to enjoy a leisurely lunch and stroll through Lahaina before heading back for more do-nothing-but-relax-and-vacation time at the hotel. Lahaina is a tourist hub on Maui; this quaint, little town can seem overwhelmingly commercial, but if you take the time, you can find a lot of history and legacy of Hawaiian culture.}

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{we spent our last morning at the Maui Ocean Center. this facility inspires me to be an marine biologist when i grow up.}

P1010611{sigh. vacations never last as long as we wish they would. do they?}

A few notes that I would add: if you or yours is susceptible to motion sickness, plan on sea sickness being a side-effect of whale watching. We didn’t foresee that with Shortstack and so his experience was bittersweet. Now we know and will appropriately plan for future marine excursions. We didn’t do the “Road to Hana” or Haleakala (again, motion sickness playing a big part in those decisions) during this trip, but past experiences with both allows me to encourage you to take the time and make the effort if you can. The “Road to Hana” really is an all-day excursion and Haleakala puts her most magnificent foot forward during the sunrise, so a 3 AM wake-up and getting-going isn’t unusual. We took a short drive to up to the I’ao Valley park, but didn’t make the hike (please read: “stroll”); but if you have the time and inclination, please make the effort. It’s the vision of Hawaiian tropical rain forests and majestic mountain cliffs. If you want to explore another big-personality town, Pa’ia is the place to be. It’s small and tourist-friendly and definitely a main-destination for our little family  during our next Maui-bound visit.

We really didn’t do all that much during this vacation. We had a few adventures and took i a few sights but, mostly, we enjoyed our downtime, soaked in the views that are so different from our home island and marveled over the whales that we saw EVERYWHERE! We totally get it when people say, “Maui no ka oi!”