What Does It Mean To Be An Ally?

Yesterday we all woke up reeling to the horrific news about the worst mass shooting in US history. Yesterday I mourned, cursed, and cried. Today I continue to mourn but am also wondering what it means to be an ally.

I haven’t changed my Facebook profile picture. I haven’t posted my feelings about this tragedy. I haven’t publicly offered my sympathy to the victims or their families. No one directly impacted will read my status so who would I be offering those thoughts to? Would it just be to make myself feel better? Would it be a token of solidarity to my LGBTQ friends or would it be another example of someone in a privileged group co-opting a cause? And if I say nothing does that give the impression that I don’t care? Does that impression matter in the grand scheme of things?

As much as I want my LGBTQ friends to know that I understand how horrific and frightening this is what I really want to express is that I *know* this isn’t about me or how *I* feel. I am an ally but that doesn’t just mean that I speak out for the rights of others. It also means, sometimes more importantly, that I listen. I listen to my LGBTQ friends and their families. I listen to the stories of the victims. I listen to leaders in the equality movement and *their* suggestions for what I can do to be a true ally. This group does not need another straight, white, cis woman, who has never questioned which bathroom to use or if it’s safe to hold her partner’s hand in public, to speak on their behalf. There are plenty of people already speaking for themselves if we only listen.

FedEx, Delayed Gratification, and Building Paradise

A few days ago a FedEx delivery man came to my house with a package. We exchanged pleasantries as he handed it to me and then he turned to leave. As I was closing the door he turned back to me and declared what a beautiful home we have; he seemed especially enamored with the flower beds in front of the house. He actually gushed, asking where we got our pavers, the types of flowers, all the while looking at it all with a bit of wonder. I answered his questions, thanked him and he was on his way but his words, especially the enthusiasm behind them, stuck with me and caused some contemplation. 

When I was a little girl my grandmother had a beautifully landscaped yard with old growth trees in rows, trimmed hedges, and not one but two bench swings. I thought it was paradise. She’s since passed away but I still drive past her house multiple times per week (it’s on my route, I’m not stalking the house!) and I still love that yard. And now I realize, thanks to the gushing of a stranger, that although the details are different (roses instead of hedges, woods instead of trees in rows, etc.) we’ve built our own beautifully landscaped, albeit modest, yard. 

It’s taken a long time, we built this house 14 years ago and it’s only been in the last couple of years that the yard has started to come together.   For a long time after we moved in we didn’t do much, we were tired from the arduous task of building the house ourselves and busy raising kids. Then, as the kids grew older, we started doing small projects. A pergola for the deck, a structure for the wood furnace, a bedroom in the basement. And, slowly but surely, landscaping for the front yard. I’ve often chastised myself for not doing well with delayed gratification; I’m easily frustrated when the rewards aren’t coming quickly enough. But now, thanks to the FedEx man, I know that I can follow through when it really matters to me. When the desire is pure and runs deep. 

We sit here a lot,on the front porch where I’m writing this, to catch up on the day, laugh at the hummingbirds, and just relax but now I’m trying to imagine what my (far in the future) grandchildren will think of it. They won’t know that the bird bath and bench, which look like they’ve always been in the front yard, were actually bought the first year we were married and moved multiple times before they found a home under the hickory tree. They won’t know the years of shoveling mulch year after year until we could finally, FINALLY afford to put rock in the flower beds. They’ll never sit on the uncomfortable chairs bought on clearance that had to do until we saved up for the outdoor furniture we have now. It won’t cross their mind that I once sat here admiring the yard before some future feature, yet to be imagined, even existed.  They won’t understand, like I didn’t swinging in my grandma’s yard, that these things are built over a lifetime. But I do think (hope) it will be a place of wonder like my granmother’s yard was for me. Their idea of paradise. 

Yep, I’m Unfriending People

It’s been over a year since I’ve posted to this blog. Life has been busy. I write but don’t polish so nothing sees the light of day. But I find myself increasingly frustrated with election season and I need an outlet so I’m back. 

The main source of my frustration is Facebook. Too much misinformation and half truths floating around. I could just scroll past it but every time I do have a little voice inside me that challenges me for not speaking up. And when I speak up I’m anxiety ridden because I hate conflict. My business requires I spend some time on social media so walking away completely isn’t really an option either. It’s a no win situation. 

So, here’s the deal. In an effort to maintain my emotional and mental well being I’m unfriending and hiding people (some family members hound my mother when I unfriend them so hiding makes things easier for her). Not everyone. Not for sharing political views that differ from my own. Just those who post vitriol, lies, and/or illogical memes, articles, and rants. If you think that’s a cowards way out, you may be right. But I’ve got to do what I’ve got to do so I’m not walking around constantly feeling anxious. I may miss some posts I’d really like to see of kids, vacations, promotions, etc. but again, I’ve gotta do what I’ve gotta do. 

And for those who share opinions without shaming, lying, and falling for logical fallacies, thanks. I’ll see you on Facebbok. 

Forty Firsts 11-26: I’m really on a roll now! 

I have been busy, busy, busy with regular life but also with lots of firsts! The biggie is that we went to Washington D.C.

 

We, of course, saw lots of museums and monuments. I’m not counting them as individual firsts because they all fall under the umbrella of my first trip to DC but a few of the things we saw were:

  • The Washington Monument
  • The Lincoln Memorial
  • The Roosevelt Memorial
  • The Jefferson Memorial
  • The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial
  • Arlington National Cemetary
  • The White House
  • The Capitol Building and Visitor Center
  • 3 Smithsonian Museums (American History, Air and Space, and American Indian)

Some of these were just drive or walk bys because it was a short trip but even a glimpse of the history in this city was enough for us to be in awe. 

Now, a few things I did count as their own separate first even though they happened as part of the larger trip.  Things that we specifically sought out for their own individual attributes, either on the drive or in the city, I counted as a first. 

In the city we went to the National Zoo specifically for our first Panda sighting. The zoo is kind of remote compared to other places we visited and required special effort. Plus we have a much better zoo close by so this was really about the pandas therefore it counts as a first. My challenge, my rules. :p

 
We also specifically sought out Nando’s despite other restaurants being more convenient. Kya wanted to try it because it’s a favorite of one of her favorite artists, Ed Sheeran. 😜 It did not disappoint!   

 

On the drive to DC we stopped at The World’s Largest Windchime. On the way home we stopped at Funky Bones, an outdoor sculpture featured in Kya’s favorite book. We also stopped (just stopping for gas doesn’t count, we have to eat or sleep for me to include it) in six states we’d never been to. 


Since we returned from our trip I’ve had even more firsts including: my first experience on the floor for a concert (or in “the pit” as they called it), my first visit to the Ozark Actors Theater (local theater that I can’t believe I’d been missing!), joined the Chamber of Commerce and attended their First Friday Coffee and monthly luncheon, and attended a crochet class. 

 By my count that’s 16 more firsts since my last post, bringing me up to 26! I’m only a little more than halfway to my goal and already I’ve visited new places, tried new foods, had new experiences, stepped out of my comfort zone, and learned a new skill! I can hardly wait to see what the rest of this year and this challenge bring. 😃 

Forty Firsts #8-10: A day full of mini adventures

One of the best lessons I’m (re)learning from this challenge is that firsts don’t have to be big to be fun. Thursday morning I had a small amount of time to kill in my tiny town and at first I was at a loss. When I say tiny I mean really tiny so there’s no Starbucks or Panera for me to nurse a coffee. But then I remembered that there is abakery I haven’t been to yet. I try to avoid sugar so I’ve just never had a reason to go but I figured where there are donuts there’s also coffee so I headed over to the Batter Up Bakery hoping they’d have a place for Kya and I to sit and chat while checking out what they had to offer. 

We were so glad we stopped in to this adorable shop! The name “Batter Up” has a double meaning, referring to both the batter they make from scratch for their delicious offerings… 

   

As well as the batters of the historic female baseball league (as seen in A League of Their Own). 

 

The owner of the shop shared that she got this hand-stitched replica fom the granddaughter of an actual Rockford Peach. One of the great things about these small town shops is that a simple comment about liking something, like this uniform, will lead to more history about the object. The memorabilia at Applebee’s is great but you don’t get great back stories from your server about it.

They also had some great pieces from the era of the league that made my vintage-loving heart flutter.   

  

After we finished our coffee and treats and said our thank you to the owners/bakers we still had a bit of time to kill si we headed over to a little place that had recently opened.

  I’d seen Satches on Facebook and wanted to stop in for a while but had just never made the time. It was a cute little shop with quilting supplies and services accented with the sale of vintage and handmade pieces. I’ll definitely be back for some of the handmade soaps- they smelled divine! 

Later that same day I took my daughter to meet up with her friends from our homeschooling circle. The girls have long outgrown having their mothers hanging around while they get together but Kya still needs me to drive and the meeting places are generally too far for me to drive home and back so I find ways to fill the time. Usually with errands but on this day I was on a roll with my firsts so I decided to check out a local trail I’d recently learned about. 

  

I love hiking (on easy to moderate trails at least) and I just couldn’t believe this treasure had been here all along and I’d never heard of it! I spent about an hour and a half just walking the trails and enjoying the tranquility of it. Even though it’s right in town it’s secluded enough that the only sounds were the birds and stream. 

   

It was a truly fun day. I still love a big, grand adventure but I love that this challenge is reminding me that I don’t have to travel far or spend a ton of money to have new experiences. 

Forty Firsts #7: St. James Public House

I’ve been to the Rolla location of Public House on multiple occasions and love the atmosphere (even though I’m not really a beer drinker, shhhh). In spite of my fondness for the original location (and the fact that a close friend is one of the owners) I somehow hadn’t managed to make it to the St. James location. So, a friend’s birthday along with another friend commenting that we really needed a night out seemed like the perfect opportunity to check it out. I was not disappointed! 

As I shamefully admitted above I’m not really a beer drinker but an ample wine list, along with other liquor, means that’s not an issue. The birthday girl enjoyed her sampler of craft beers while the rest of had some great local wine. 



In addition to drinks we also had some great food. Sausage and cheese platters, artisan sandwiches, hummus, and raspberry cheesecake bites are a few of the delicious goodies on the menu. 



The atmosphere was just as fun as the Rolla location. It’s relaxed, upscale but casual, and quiet enough to have good conversations while still feeling lively and fun. This was my first visit to this location but it definitely won’t be my last! 

Forty Firsts #6: Bridal Expo

Last weekend I had the opportunity to participate as a vendor in a local Prom and Bridal Expo. 



Multiple vendors offering goods and services for weddings and other formal events gathered together to meet (mostly) brides. Each guest had a “passport” that had to be stamped by each vendor for them to be eligible for door prizes which meant each and every bride came to my booth where I was able to talk with them about honeymoon destinations and the advantages of using a travel agent. I’ve never been a vendor before and I’m very introverted so I really appreciated that the organizers of the event set things up this way. 

I was the only travel agent present and, in addition to having a lot of fun, I felt like I made some great contacts. I haven’t actually gotten any new clients yet but that’s okay. It was a fantastic experience and over the course of the day I fine-tuned my message which will be helpful as I move ahead with my business. I was able to let people know that not only are my services free but that they are VALUABLE. 

The more I said this aloud to others the more the idea was reinforced to me. Sometimes I need the reminder that people aren’t doing me a favor by utilizing my services. We are entering into a mutually beneficial relationship as agent and client. I’m only beginning this year of firsts and I can already see that it isn’t just going to be about new experiences but new understandings. I’m ready.