Spread a Little Love

Full life

Something I discovered fairly young in my life is just how much hate there is in this world! I have always been an odd duck. I’m not afraid to speak the honest truth even when it’s not something the other person wants to hear. I know myself (apparently much better than some other people) and I’m not afraid to express that. I’ve never really been interested in “fitting in” or being trendy. I’ve always been ok with standing out, standing up for what I believe in, and defending the little guy.

I’ve never considered myself popular. In fact, in school I was rejected from most every group I was a part of at one point or another. I was even rejected from the group people considered the “rejects”! But this by no means meant that I had no friends. I have always had plenty of friends from a variety of different circles, many of them I’ve had around since I was very young. One of my best friends I’ve known since we were 4!

The biggest part of someone being my friend is that this person will receive love from me. I don’t like my friends, I love them. If I consider someone my friend, I will fully support them, give them everything and anything. This includes loaning them items which are mine, donating my time with them (or sometimes their children), going shopping, listening to them, counseling them, helping them move out of their ex-boyfriend’s house, letting them sleep on my couch.

But I don’t just spread the love to my friends, I also spread it to strangers. I buy the order for the person behind me at the drive through. I’ve paid for other people’s groceries at the supermarket. I donate to charities. I give warm coffee or cool drinks to pan handlers. I’ve picked up a hitch hiker… but I don’t recommend doing that. I volunteer my time, money and talents in any way I am able. I run 5K races for good causes.

The hardest part of how I spread love is when I am showing love to someone who clearly doesn’t agree with me, who has been cruel to me, or someone who I know doesn’t appreciate the love I’m showing to them. But I show them love anyway because this is a reflection of ME, not a reflection of them. Even if they don’t accept the love I’m giving out, I do it anyway because that’s what I want to do. I may do this in the form of a welcoming smile, helping in any of the above ways mentioned, or even just in forgiving them, which sometimes can be the most difficult thing of all.

Forgiving someone who has wronged you is one of the most difficult, but most loving things you will ever do in your life!

Nevertheless, it’s something you NEED to do! Sometimes when you tell someone else that you forgive them you will be met with a cold stare, disdain or apathy. I’ve even been met with cruel remarks like “I don’t need *YOUR* forgiveness. I did nothing wrong!” or worse. That doesn’t stop me. I believe that EVERYONE makes mistakes and EVERYONE deserves forgiveness. Maybe this won’t happen in a day, a week, a month or even YEARS, but eventually you will have to forgive those who have wronged you, acknowledge they made a mistake, and move on with your life.

Because spreading the love with hatred for someone else in your heart is IMPOSSIBLE.

Smiles

Most important of all, don’t be afraid to love yourself. Love your weirdness. Love the things you do that drive other people crazy. Love your hair that never does what you want it to do. Love your hips which are just a little too wide for what you think they should be. Love your pudgy tummy. Go on, love it! It’s a part of who you are. There are other people in this world who are jealous of YOUR pudgy tummy. Believe it.

If you don’t like something about yourself, you have two choices: Learn to love it, or DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT!!

If it’s something you don’t view as a problem or something which needs to change, then learn to love it. If it’s a problem, make a change. Complaining is not one of those choices. Jealousy is not one of those choices. Envy is not one of those choices. Being mean to others because you don’t like aspects of yourself is NOT one of those choices.

I have a lot of things that I’m not always confident about, but that doesn’t mean I don’t love every part of me.
So go on, get out there and start spreading some love. It won’t always be easy, but it will always be the right choice.

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Equality for ALL

From the day that I was 5 it was pressed into my brain… “with liberty and justice for all”. Every day at school we’d say it. Justice for ALL. Not justice for some. Not justice for the rich that can afford the awesome attorney. Justice for ALL. And I believed it. When I was younger I actually believed that there was justice for all.

Now that I’m an adult I know better. Justice isn’t free or fair. Justice more often goes to the highest bidder. That’s not to say that there aren’t public defenders who try their hardest to achieve what’s fair and best for their client. Only that too often the outcome of a trial is based on how much money the person makes and what kind of attorney they can afford. It sickens me. How is that fair and how are “all men created equal” when some are clearly given a priority in this world? Justice isn’t an equal right sometimes, but that’s not the worst of it. Just living in this world as who you are isn’t an equal right in the world today!

We the People

Yup. This is going to be an equal marriage rights post.

I saw this picture and it was just another reminder that our forefathers wanted everyone to have the same human rights. This country was founded from oppression: the citizens wanted equal representation and less of the king treating them like second class citizens so they fought, suffered, and died so their children could experience that. Yet here we are. Hundreds of years later, and the state of things is STILL not equal. The reason that makes me the most irritated is that not all my friends are allowed to marry who they want to.

Now in the state I live, we have equal marriage rights.

No, I don’t call it “gay marriage” because there’s nothing gay about it. You don’t call marriage between two heterosexual people “straight” marriage, right? So why does ANYONE call it “gay” marriage? I know you’re not trying to be offensive, but you are. So knock it off.

The LGBT community isn’t trying to devalue marriage. They aren’t trying to affect anyone else’s marriage or “the sanctity” of marriage. Brittany Spears and Kim Kardashian certainly didn’t respect their “sacred marriage vows” very much. So how is marriage going to be any less sacred by letting couples who have been together sometimes more than 30 years get married?! This one really boggles my mind.

I know there are communities out there who don’t support homosexuality. For the religious groups, they believe it’s a sin. Although I’m no longer a Christian, I understand that belief and where they are coming from. But I propose this: The Bible doesn’t say to hate those who are sinners. Jesus said to PRAY FOR ALL SINNERS. Jesus said LOVE THY NEIGHBOR (he didn’t specify sexual orientation and YES homosexuality has existed for thousands of years, so it was around back then). and Jesus said “First pull the beam from your eye so that you may help your brother with the splinter in his.” This means that before you go criticizing the sin of someone else, maybe you should address your own sins/problems first.

And biggest of all, the Bible said we are ALL sinners. Romans 3:23 says “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (One of my favorite verses, by the way. Yes I’m a Bible verse-loving Pagan. Deal with it.)

Wait a minute… so if ALL have sinned, then ALL are equal in the eyes of God, right? So since all are equal, they should all have equal rights, right? Do you see where I’m going with this? Not to mention, I’m sure that any God would people to love each other and not be hate-mongerers or to actually HARM or KILL those who are sinners!! Jesus stopped the people trying to stone the prostitute, so why would he allow “Christians” to harm any other sinner?!

So here’s the deal. There has been inequality in this country for hundreds of years due to race, class, gender, sexual orientation, age and many other factors. Isn’t it about time that we checked at least ONE of those off the list?! Allowing people in the LGBT community to get married won’t do anything in the lives of others, but it means the WORLD to people in that demographic. So let’s be a little more kind, accepting and loving to these brothers and sisters in our world regardless of what you think of their lifestyle.

I’d love to see a world where there is liberty and justice for all, or maybe for now just marriage for all.

Gratitude

I think it’s so easy in our fast-paced world to get so caught up in what I’m doing to really realize just how good I have it. Sometimes it takes a tragedy to really reflect on what I have that so many people in this world live without on a daily basis. I have a warm home in a safe, friendly neighborhood. I have heat, hot water and plenty of clothing (seriously I need to pare down some on the fashion). I can watch TV in my spare time. I can access the internet to connect with my friends and former classmates, read news from around the world and just for pure entertainment. I have fresh air! There are so many people in the world living in places with highly polluted air. I’m so grateful for all the fresh air I’m able to get. I am grateful for all the knowledge I’ve amassed in my lifetime. I know a LOT (and I mean a LOOOOOT) about lots of things. I’m truly grateful for all the wonderful and supportive people I have in my life. I’m grateful for you, the willing readers of my blog. I could go on and on.

But gratitude isn’t something everyone appreciates or even expresses on a regular basis, and that to me is a baffling concept. Why wouldn’t people want to be thankful for what they have every day? Who would ever want to limit gratitude to only Thanksgiving (followed of course by the greediness of Black Friday… because that’s the best way to celebrate gratitude). Sometimes I’m just so disgusted by how much people in this country focus on STUFF. Not just stuff, but stuff that you can’t pass on to future generations and stuff that can’t be taken with when you die.

YOU CAN’T TAKE STUFF WITH WHEN YOU DIE.

One of the things I am the most grateful for in my life is the work I do with the incarcerated woman in my local community. Spending time with them makes me truly grateful for all that I have. All day these women are surrounded by brick walls. No sunshine, no warm spring air, and no freedom to do or go where they want all because of whatever mistake they made. These women are no different than I am. I make mistakes all the time, and I’m not a bad person. If you want to say that people who break the law are criminals, then every person who has ever gotten a speeding ticket, drove after having a beer or two (which I by no means would ever endorse) or even jaywalked has broken the law and is also a criminal.

Let that sink in for a minute.

When things are going badly during the day, I try to think about the things I take for granted every day that these women are denied and it keeps me humble. When it’s cold outside I think about the woman who once told me “I’d shovel snow in my bra and panties in -30 degree weather if it means I wasn’t in here!”. I think about all the people who care about me, and how there are so many women in jail who aren’t getting visitors, letters or any words of encouragement from friends and family. It keeps me humble.

I may not be a saint by any means, but gratitude and humility are things I am working on each and every day, and I think I’m getting better.

I am a Runner

I am a runner! I never thought I would say those words, but the more my feet hit the pavement, the more truth there is to that statement. I do not have a runner’s physique. I may not seem like a runner, but I am a runner. Three years ago I was working in a town where I knew no one, commuting 90 minutes each way to work and I had a whole hour lunch break with nothing to do! I decided I would start walking to fill my free time.

I started small. 4 blocks, 8 blocks, 12 blocks… soon it became habit, but there was something about it that made me crave it. I had never ran more than 20 feet in my entire life, and only because I had to! In school when my class ran the mile, I walked as slow as possible so that by the time the 45 minute class period had finished, I had done less than ¼ of a mile. I hated all things physical activity, especially organized PE classes. But this was different this time. I found myself looking forward to my daily walks.

Soon I was coming back from work too hot and sweaty to continue it on my lunch breaks, so I would wake up at 5 am to do it. I was hooked. The wind on my face, watching trees and buildings pass. I would challenge myself “I’ll jog as fast as I can for the next ten feet” or “I want to jog for the next 90 seconds”. Once I met that goal, I worked on bigger goals and soon I found myself walking 2 miles a day, and still I wanted to do more.

Last fall I signed up for my first 5K. I chose the Anamosa Pumpkinfest 5K. It was a flat out-and-back path. “I can walk 3.1 miles” I thought to myself. I’m not going to lie, when I finished that first 5K I was more exhausted than I had ever been in my life, but I felt so good I just couldn’t sit still! I finished my first 5K in 55:57. Only 3 people finished behind me, but I finished and I was so proud of that goal. I ended up doing another 5K and wanted to do even more in 2014.

This January I made a New Year’s resolution to do 10 5K races in 2014. In April I ran my first 5K of the season and I had two goals. 1. I wanted to finish. 2. I wanted to finish in 40 minutes or less. This was a HUGE stretch goal for me! Last year I had never done better than 50 minutes and my practice times were about the same, but I was determined. I finished at 41:41, just a minute and forty one seconds short of my goal! I was thrilled. Not only did I nearly hit my stretch goal, I won second place in my division! ( I nearly had a heart attack when I found out!) Last weekend I ran my third 5K of the year, and finished with an even better time of 40:40. Just 40 seconds shy of my goal! I never thought I would achieve this goal, but I stuck by, made smaller goals along the way, and here I am within a short sprint of my stretch goal. I’m registered for 7 more 5K’s and I hope to continue to make new personal records and meet my goal of a 40 minute 5K. I may not be the fastest, but I don’t have to be.

I am a runner. And I hope I never stop. And if you want to be a runner, don’t let anything stop you either. Just take it one step at a time.Image