Friday, November 3, 2017

The word CHANGE

Can we really "change" something?
There is so much negativity in this world. People are at each other's throats. People are pushing and pulling and polarizing and separating each other from others. There is so much dark cloud aspects...and how do we expect to break this? Is it possible to break  and move closer together or are we beyond this.

 I am going to be honest. I don't hide the fact that I disagree with the route America went when they cast their votes last November. And I understand everyone's need for go against the status quo. And I can get into all of the issues of voting with your ears and eyes when there were blatant, obvious examples of ridiculous vile vulgarity. And YET, we voted the way we did when the issues were obvious and focused against my community. We who have FOUGHT for our place at the table have felt the sting of this vote. Women and LGBTQ folks alike. And so many around me voted under the guise that we need someone different, even though he showed blatant leanings towards surrounding himself hypocritically with GOD and the far right and conservative thought process, knowing that the possibility was HUGE that everything would be reversed.

And yet, I am the first to admit that both sides were not the greatest in regards to the 2016 choices. And yet I cast my vote.
I cast my vote to make sure that the advances the LGBTQ community had been granted in previous years were protected.
I cast my vote for advancing forward.

And now we flash forward and now we see that 45's main function is to reverse EVERYTHING Obama brought to the table and opened up for humanity. And many can think and say, "Oh it won't happen. He won't do that. Oh he will be smarter than that."
And now we see his truth.
He has blown up his Twitter account with blatant hatred and head-shaking ridiculousness.
He has publicly promoted hate groups by saying nothing but placing blame on "both sides" never once condemning what was said in the first place. Folks could say that he didn't do this...yet by not FULLY addressing this and by using the "both sides are at fault" he has given these hate groups a platform and a "justification" to be at the table.
He has spoken at religious groups conventions who pass pamphlets basically call my community  and lets just say it, ME an abomination. abomination and something that needs to be fixed. He has JOKINGLY said that his Vice President would want to see folks like ME hung.  Lynched from the highest tree...

He has surrounded himself with people who are "Christ-like" and yet turning his back on so many struggling Americans, treating many disrespectfully, and in the face of current natural disasters, has proven absolutely heartless in how he, being a representative of our country, has interacted and responded. Heartless. Disgusting. Throwing paper towels at it.

And inch by inch...tearing the mode of decency down and down until we will have nothing to stand on.

For when he is allowed to act this way...others are too.

And people are watching.
People are listening.
Children are watching.
Children are listening.

I am horrifed by this.

By the spin.
By allowing the lies. Blatant or not.
By the soap opera he has created in the house that once held dignity and was highly respected.
The position that held decorum and pride now is tainted and continues to crumble.
And when the proverbial crap hits the fan...or too much crap is being forced down America's throats...all of a sudden we have pictures and stories of this all-amazing leader surrounded by pastors, members of the cloth, saying he is a Godly man...I will have none of it.
Sheer blindness and stupidity.
We have been had.
And we have been had stupendously.

When considering  the world of "Handmaid's Tale" and the horror of that representation of a country under "Christ-like" restructuring, how are members of my community supposed to feel protected and safe? When our President jokes of hanging and lynching and deprives transgender military service people their right to serve...are you serious?

When many look to Canada and all they have been able to achieve and say, hmmm, shall we move? That is sad. We are the land of the free and the brave...when most do not feel free whatsoever...or come here to be free and pursue their golden dream and are placed in shackles by a racist travel ban or building a wall to keep others out...

How Christ-like indeed

And yet we are supposed to support CHANGE.
We are supposed to embrace CHANGE.
We are supposed to be the CHANGE makers.

How does one get motivated to be able to do that in the face of the circus of hate and ridiculousness that we have placed before us and is being shoved down our throats.

Years ago I was in an amazing musical entitled Ragtime. This powerful musical is all about the misunderstood, the down-trodden, the folks who are fighting for a place at the table. This song plays on repeat track in my of the most powerful moments EVER in my stage have Kevyn sing this in my face with glorious baritone and passion...

America was built on PATRIOTISM.
But PATRIOTISM comes in many forms.
The very fabric of our American history is built on patriotism and fighting for what is right and good and true and not being afraid to speak up.

To those who complain about the NFL bending a knee during the National Anthem, I say, "Push back is JUST as American as the complacent. Patriotism is wanting a better tomorrow and fighting for it. Patriotism is NOT denying folks a proper place at the table meant for EVERYONE by our forefathers."

With this in mind...
I CAN and WILL fight for change.
I will donate to causes that are set up to FIGHT the ridiculousness we are now experiencing.
I will MARCH.
I will FIGHT.
For my community AND for those who are being forced to be complacent or not allowed to SPEAK.

I will SPEAK.

Friday, October 13, 2017

For Mom.

When Mom was battling and fighting and trying to stay ahead of the game, I spent time searching Youtube and backlog of music to see if there was some songs that could become cheerleaders for her recovery. Sometimes this would get posted on her Facebook page to cheer her up, encourage her, help her through the day.

This would have been one of those songs.
I can find great solace in the lyrics of the song "Don't Worry About Me" by Frances.

Even if I fall down, where you are not around...
Don't Worry About me...
Don't worry about me.

I'll feel the fear for you.
To make you feel comfortable...

If I fall, you fall.
If I rise, We rise together.

Don't worry about me.

Even with Mom gone, this song feels important.
It brings tears to my eyes and makes my heart sad...but also brings a feeling of  being empowered.
I know that this will become more of an anthem for me...
Heck, for all of us.
As days droll on.
As we move forward alone and together.

I love that if I fall, you fall and if I rise, we will rise together.
It truly takes a village and a network of friends and family and acquaintances and just coming at each day with the thought of making it easier for others by trying to make it easier.
We all carry our own loads of weight.
And no one really knows the weight and burden the other carries.

All it takes a little kindness.
A smile.
Reaching out when you know the going is tough for someone.
Just saying Hey.
Just providing that hug when you need it most.
Saying I love you and meaning it.
Providing a release of laughter.

Just letting it all out and others just listening and being a sounding board.

Be there friends.
For yourself.
For others.

We will rise together

Saturday, September 23, 2017

I love what this song says...a new power song...

A little song...
To push you.
To get you through. 
To inspire you.
To give you a reason. 
To love.
To live.
To pursue your dreams.
To make mistakes and learn from them.
To find that inner drive to persevere and get up in the morning to face another day.
To say I am ok.
Where I am.
Who I am.
That I can indeed conquer any obstacle in my way and come out into the light...
On the other side.
And whole. 

Gratitude for today as always.
Carry on my fellow travelers.
Be the conqueror we all know you to be.

Friday, September 8, 2017

A sheep or a dragon?

It is no secret that many people love the HBO show Game of Thrones. Viewers and obsessive audiences alike get so caught up in it's stories and intrigue and deception and fantasy.

In a recent episode, a very strong older female character told an up and coming female ruler that most men are sheep...
"Are you a sheep?" She asked her, 
"No. You are NOT a sheep. 
You are a dragon. 
So be a dragon."

And this struck me.
How many times have we lost sight of who we truly are? And it takes a juggling from someone close to us to bring us back to our true center core of who we are as a human being?

"Are you a sheep? NO You are a dragon..."

Sheep lose their way.
Dragons are a force to be reckoned with.

Sheep are gentle, and kind, and nurturing. There is almost a demure quality to them, if I may say that? And while I don't think that these are negative qualities,  it also hints at a sense of complacency as well...getting "too comfortable." And that is wrong. That makes life tedious and boring and you risk losing your creative focus. Living life fully sometimes requires you to step outside the box and live life fiercely.

Times like these sometimes calls for a ferocious focus and living on the edge of something great. Scissor like focus on what needs to be done, a drive to complete the process, and reshift your vision towards something new you may have never ever thought of...

It sometimes requires stepping outside of your comfort zone and sheep do not do that. They stay where it is comfortable. They don't rock the boat. I am feeling stuck in this mode a bit...perhaps creatively speaking...but not sure what this all means perhaps this is just a verbal vomiting to get it off my chest and nothing forward from there....or perhaps something different? Who knows.

In doing a little research into this, I found that dragons are symbolic in many different cultures and represent many different aspects of personality and drive. They are protective, fierce, fire-breathing, sexual beings. European dragon lore depicts them as protective of riches, sinful, symbols of wickedness. Asian dragons symbolize wisdom, longevity, sexuality, procreation, fertility, and regeneration.  Japanese dragons are hugely connected to water and fluidity. Vietnamese dragons represent life, growth, existence, and prosperity. In Chinese culture, the dragon represents the most potent of all symbols bringing luck and prosperity to the picture, showcasing abundance, and consistent success and high achievement in all things attempted. 

In all cultures, the dragon is still a very popular symbol that stands for valiance, heroism, boldness, self-confidence, power, excellence, perseverance, nobility, vitality and happiness. It brings about physical as well as spiritual well-being and strength. It is related to the spring season and is representative of auspiciousness and new beginnings. I love this and perhaps this is where I connect to the dragon phrase so much...I am in the middle of a new beginning as it were...a beginning without my mother, a new beginning in regards to my career, a new beginning in regards to creative adventures and what that unknowingly entails.

With all the uncertainty that surrounds this concept, I still absolutely love this. Uncertain times brings about the most creative juices. When you look back on your life, I think it is important to pay close attention as to what is needed at the appropriate time frame. It is important, I think, at times to sit back, listen, and take in with a calm demeanor or is it time to jolt your senses into taking action. We definitely are on a precipice it seems and at what point do you decide it is time to leave the comfort and jump in with firey streamlined focus and get things accomplished?

In most cultures, the dragon also symbolizes balance. Interesting fact as well to take into consideration

So what I am asking is that we take a moment recognize our strengths. If you struggle with this, ask other to tell you what they think your strengths are...where is your dragon components that you are not seeing and embrace what they have to say. It would be very interesting to hear what other folks have to say...Then bring those strengths to the table, and use the talents we are all given for the common good of all of our communities.

Be the DRAGON we all know you to be.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

One year anniversary...

oh my goodness.
One year ago.
I got up super early and headed north driving the longest drive i had ever taken...
to the moment I had dreaded my entire life.
I knew I had to say goodbye.
I knew I had to say "It was okay to go"...
When my heart was just not ready.
But I knew I had to.
For you.

This has been a rough year without you
I know it has only been a year since your departure, but truthfully, it feels like 5. 
Like 10.
Like infinity.
This has been the longest year of my life.
Your departure has been rough on all of us.
That smile that could light up any room.
And it wasn't there to brighten the darkness that surrounded all of us.
I have never gone through something this intense, this deep, and felt like something had been ripped away.
Even though I knew in the back of my mind.
I knew we were there at those final months...those final moments.
But it is never enough time.
I miss the dancing.
I miss the late night talks over wine.
I miss the support and guidance.
I miss the listening and the laughing and the love.
I miss the hugs.

I miss the phone calls 
that is the worst part of this empty hole right now and will continue to be.
I miss the adventures and the stories.

The memories come flooding back of our last night together.
I am so grateful that you waited for me to get there.
I am grateful that you are no longer struggling.
You never showed us the pain you were experiencing.
You showed us the fight. The courage. The strength. And all with style and grace and a constant smile...pushing through and staying positive.

You shared so much with all of us.
Even that moment on the plane, flying back to Minnesota on our last adventure together, you were there to listen to the lady a row ahead of us when she asked if you were struggling with breast didn't shy away from it and even shared your story of being a positive influence for those struggling with this awful disease. She was impressed and so tearful, having her own breast cancer story, and grateful and thankful to you for sharing yours. 

It was so YOU.
There for everybody. 
Sharing your story. 
Leading with positivity at all times.
You left us that legacy. 
That lesson.
And we will be forever grateful to you.

There are so many photos I will always cherish. These are my favorites and showcase YOU. 
You were so special to so many of us. 
The light of many parties.
That smile.
Those hugs.
The advice.
Making sure each of us felt loved and supported.
Always taking care of us.

The times we have shared. 
The adventures.
The struggles.
All part of our story.

Thank you for bringing Christmas into our lives every year.
It was your favorite holiday.
It was your passion for Santa that I will never forget...even keeping him around all year round.
Under glass.
Keeping that spirit in our lives day in and day out.
Even throwing Christmas in July parties for your friends.
It is that giving nature, that being there to help others as well that is important for us to always remember.
I will never forget right after you passed, seeing the Santa on the bike outside the hospital. 
It felt poetic and perfect. 
I keep Santa out by your picture, by your ashes, and I know you would love it.
I keep looking at your picture and know that smile is what drives me to be a better man 
day in and day out 
and to continue to make you proud.

I don't feel you around me all the time.
I pray that that will change.
I miss you.
I feel you most when I am in your car.
That has been both difficult and heart warming.
It has been the hardest to navigate through...
I feel you the most when I am in there, driving home.
I feel you when I am on the road.
I am so grateful for this gift.

I felt you the most in our Badlands moments together. 
At the top of the mountain.
looking down on our rock.
And feeling nothing but absolute gratitude.
I hope I made you proud.
I wanted to make sure everything was just as you would want it.

I will carry you always in my heart.
I will remember you always and share you with others.
I am grateful for all you have taught me.
All you continue to teach me.

Today is an anniversary none of us wish to celebrate.
September 5th.
I know for a fact that this year's anniversary will not be celebratory 
but I will try my hardest to make sure I get somewhere quiet, 
pour myself a glass of wine, and raise it to you. 
To your life. 
To your smile. 
And say Thank you.
For your love.
For your strength.
For sharing yourself with so many
For the lessons you taught.

I hope and pray you are pouring yourself a glass of wine and are sharing it with Donnie, Grandpa Pete, and Dougie at the same time.

Know you are missed every day, every minute, every hour and the love goes on and on. 

Sunday, September 3, 2017

7 photos that define/describe your life

I came across a Facebook post that intrigued me. 
Can you find/share 7 photos that define and describe your life up and to this point. 
What a difficult task!!!!
What a challenge!!!
A life is defined by SO many memories. 
So many photographs.
So many moments. 
So many tears..
So many mementos
So much laughter.
Totally cheated and am thankful for the picture frame format on today's apps.
Here are my 7 photo choices:

It begins with a birth.
A beginning.
Provided a childhood without boundaries.
A fairy tale of imaginative adventure.
So many wonderful childhood memories.
Haircuts in the dining room from Dad.
The protective love and support of a mother.
Always good for a hug.
A nurturer and confidante from the very beginning.
The love of four grandparents.
Fried chicken and blueberry pie.
Molasses cookies.
Blondie and his spittoon.
Christmas eves of long gone by.
Childlike wonder and excitement.
Summers spent in Minnesota and Butter Brickle ice cream
Forts in the woods.
Planned parades.
Forcing family to sit through performances I created.
Tears over skinned knees at weddings and bike rides.
 Laughter and no parameters.
Swimming in the lake and innocently jumping in.

My family.
High school sweethearts.
Butterflies and prom. 
Driving the back roads.
Developing a life.
Marriage and sharing cake together with well wishes of all.
Turning troubled and turbulent.
A parting.
Second weddings that no one speaks about.
New lives.
New loved ones.
Wild and crazy and unbound.
Vast and important.
But looking back from this vantage point, would never change a thing on this life course. 
I would go through the turbulence and pain and tears to have this now family together and a part of me.

Something was missing...
A yearning for Prince Charming.
Yearning to have someone in my life who knew me...
Yearning for that special someone.
Frustrated with my life for so many years, wondering where he was
SO many misses...
Not realizing that my life was SO busy that I truly could not have logically allowed someone else in because I had filled my life with work, work, and more work.
Building that resume and filling life with being on the go.
Still continued to yearn and lament for someone who would grow to intimately know all of me and wouldn't run screaming.
A true love.
A true friend.
A love of a lifetime 
A forever.
And then I found you.
And all else faded away.
The clouds cleared and I knew I had found someone special.
I am so blessed to have found someone who completes me and works beside me towards a better life for both of us.
I am grateful for your love. The joy and giggles you bring me.
Your sense of humor and the sparkle in your eyes when you look at me.
I am grateful for your support.
The last year has not been easy.
But you have been there through it all.
Holding me. 
Supporting me. 
Sometimes not knowing what to say but just being there for me.
I could not have made it throughout this year without you, my love.
I will always love you to the moon and back.

For the love of theatre.
For the love of creativity and having an outlet on which to express my inner thoughts.
To bring characters to life, deeply, emotionally, physically and to be able to show the cracks in the persona.
The base on which many friendships in my life are built.
Many friends met on the boards and in the limelight.
Dear friendships that remain even today.
From Mrs. Simek's second grade classroom that Christmas to the stage in the gymnasium and a bald cap.
From my very first community on the Belle Mehus stage with Jane and Shirley to the stage at Century High School donning Biblical robes.
To the most rewarding and difficult and beautiful and raw and poignant roles of my entire life. 
Medora and all its splendor poured into the Badlands encouraging me to come home to ND.
A bawdy patriot in 1776 with a big personality and a flair for the bold.
A little Devil with a goal in mind showcasing fabulous fire.
A Younger Brother with a passion so see a different world.
My Angel. My Love. A role of a lifetime.
An Emcee where nothing is as it seems and no one is safe.
A mother with an inner sense of fabulousness, a wardrobe and love for her family that transcends hatred and bigotry.
No boundaries. Just honesty and humanity.
But I struggle with what is next. What is the next role? I just don't know and that leaves me uneasy and at odds with myself at times.

This is one of my most cherished moments of my entire life.
To have all my parents with me on this day.
My wedding day.
With so much happiness surrounding us.
Knowing that love had brought us on a journey together.
So much to get us to this day.
The journey was rough and sometimes not so great. 
Coming out and all of the struggles that ensued.
The battles between Mom and Dad.
Not always happy but also a truce.
For the love they each had found in their own lives. The struggles to get to that point in their lives.
Allowing someone else in behind the wall.
Wanting a King or Queen to come in and carry them away.
Finding love and contentment.
And all-in-all, this moment.
We made it to this moment.
I am grateful for this moment, frozen in time.
I will cherish this moment in my heart always.
This was the moment frozen in my mind...
Somehow knowing that the cancer was lurking here among us.
Not sure what that uneasiness meant for all of us...
The uncertainty of what that meant.
But so grateful for this happy moment.
To share with family and friends from near and far.
Grateful for their journeys to be there with the both of us.
For the hugs, the toasts, the laughter and tears.
A day we will never forget.

The friendships that have stood the tests of time.
Each one of these friends have been there through thick and thin.
There are a few missing from this moment. 
For that I apologize...but know that
these are the friendships that began all the way back in elementary school...junior high...high school.
Each one of my friends have seen me at my worst.
Supported me when I was struggling.
Supported me when I was at my best.
Hugged me.
Loved me.
Grabbed my booty just to get my face to turn red.
(which it always does)
That is true friendship...knowing which buttons to push.
Just to see my face turn red...
There is MAGIC shared here. 
There is music and art and theater and joy shared here in these friendships.
Some of us believed in the power of "sitting round making music all day long."
There are years and years and years of friendship just in this one picture and for each of them 
(and those not pictured)
...absolute GRATITUDE.
Thank you for your friendship.
Thank you for your love.

I have recently blogged about this photo but it truly is one of my most cherished, 
most favorite photographs.
Kept on a bookshelf inside my classroom.
Explained every year to each student who enters my classroom walls.
It is important.
It is poetic.
It is symbolic.
Looking beyond and outward towards the possibility of the horizon.
Looking out toward a better future and forgetting the past.
Sharing this moment with important loved ones and allowing them into your heart.
Looking forward to infinite possibilities.
Imagining a vibrant future.
And being grateful for each moment.
Because tomorrow is not guaranteed.

Feeling blessed for life's adventures
Small or large.
Rough or smooth.
All life defining.
All important.
All beautiful in its own certain way.

Grateful for it all.

Carry on my fellow travelers and make the most of it all.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

A meaningful life...

A life well lived...
So much truth in this post.
A compass on how to live your life going forward.
The world is becoming crazier and crazier...
This is how I choose to live...
This is how I will move forward...
And I will try so hard to figure out how to navigate this journey.