Tuesday, February 19, 2013

"Officially" Working on My Memoir!

I’ve decided to finally start writing my memoir!  I already have bits and pieces of it, and it’s time to put it all together and really follow my dream of being a published author.  I realized that if I had a goal for a book proposal of 50,000 words and was able to write at least 1,000 words a day, then I would have my book finished in 50 writing days.  So roughly 2 months – or 10 work-weeks.  1,000 words a day is super easy, and I even did my calculations based on only writing M-F since we have the boys on the weekends and things can get hectic.  I just consider it my “job”, what I have to do M-F.  So I took a look at the calendar and since I started writing last Friday, theoretically, I will have my memoir finished by Friday, April 26.

As far as publishing goes, I’m still exploring my options.  I’m thinking about going digital and doing self-publishing like this clever lady.  Whatever gets my story out and food on my table the quickest. ;)

So, what’s my book about?  Why, thank you for asking!

It is called Redefining Faith: The Story of a Perfect Little Christian Girl.

It documents the last 8 or so years of my life and reflects upon my childhood and Christian upbringing.  I’m my memoir, my ultimate soliloquy.  It shows that even though I’ve had a radical shift in beliefs, I’m still faithful and connect to the Spirit now more than ever.  I never lost my faith – I just redefined it a bit.  I started looking at it through a different lens.

I’ve realized that faith is a personal thing.  What works for you may not work for others and vice versa.  And that’s ok.  That’s how the world is supposed to be.  We need to start focusing on what we have in common instead of our petty differences.  And it was that realization that got all of this going. 

It’s not a secret that my beliefs have recently been laid out on the table in front of those close to me, and that some of my views or opinions may drift a bit from the conventional Christian belief system.

When all the you-know-what hit the fan, I think those involved would agree that our family kinda fell apart there for a bit.  And we’re still working on putting all the pieces back together.

After everything happened, I was so full of anger about how it all unfolded that I could barely function.  To be laid out bare like that, exposed.  It completely turned my world upside down.  I went from being constantly full of love to being constantly full of anger and fear.

I was already still exploring my spirituality and trying to figure it all out, and then all of a sudden, I’m exposed under everyone’s microscope while doing so.  (Then on top of that, I had to start defending my husband and our relationship and reassure him because he felt like everyone in my family hated him, and it hurt my heart because I was wondering if he could be right. Our love is questioned, such a mournful sound.)

So I got defensive.  I said some things I shouldn’t have, and I still have a problem with not getting too offensive or forceful with my beliefs.  There were a few months where I kind of shoved it down everyone’s throat and made myself out to be this bitter, condescending, Christian-condemning, mess.  I alienated myself.  I took every chance I had to “prove” myself and show that I wasn’t automatically a terrible person because of my new ideals.  Unfortunately, in doing so, I may have hurt a lot more people than I realized.  But I’m realizing it now, and I guess that’s what’s important.

It is true that I have had a change in beliefs.  It’s not that I’m denouncing Christianity at all, despite how I may have made it sound in the past.  In fact, I’m embracing Christianity now more than ever because I’m going back to my basics.  Jesus is who captured and moved me, and I still feel like he’s on my side.  So we’re going to work together so that I can explain, process, and balance my current inner beliefs and feelings with those that I had growing up.

So this memoir will document my journey over the past few years and hopefully explain myself and my views a little more clearly.  And hopefully help heal some hearts and offer some encouragement along the way. 

There’s a lot of oppression going on in the world today, especially religious oppression.  People in power are telling society that they can’t, that that won’t, that they aren’t, that they will never be It’s time for the religious and political oppression to end.  It’s time for humanity to start believing in itself again and know that it is worthy of love no matter where you come from or what your religion is.  I want to tell people that they can, that they will, that they are, and that that will ALWAYS be!

Every singe person on this planet has limitless potential, and I want to help them realize it.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

It's Our Christian Duty to LOVE!

So…whew, what a couple of days!

When I first got that text from my best friend Brooke telling me to check the news about Sullivan, I had no idea that it would turn into what it’s become.

Right now, the Facebook page “Support the Sullivan High School Prom for All Students” has nearly 25,000 Likes.  And I’m sure it will reach and surpass that by the time this blog is written and posted.  I’m not sure that many people have ever even known Sullivan, Indiana existed.

Then all this stuff with my mom taking the brunt of the attacks on the church, school and community…I’m honestly still trying to process it all. 

I do want to say a huge THANK YOU!! to everyone who called, emailed, or faxed my mom.  She said she's received a lot nice things, and her spirits are lifted!  

I also want to say thank you to Dan Savage for updating his blog and apologizing.  The fact that he even took the time to do this for someone he doesn't even know helps restore my faith in humanity!

So sincerely, from the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU! LOVE WINS!

On another good note, the views of my blog are skyrocketing! ;) As of right now, 307 people have read my last post!  (Normally it’s between 25-50).  That’s pretty freaking cool. J

I’ve been thinking a lot the past few days about how I want to respond to all that’s going on in Sullivan right now (other than encouraging people to stop hating on my momma!).  Part of me feels I should just stay out of it, but then again since I am trying to pursue a career in this blogging business, it’s kind of my duty to give my say.  

Especially since I contribute such a unique voice to the conversation.  

I was raised in Sullivan, Indiana in the very church that was in that video.  Growing up, I remember feeling nothing but love when I was there.  Everyone was friendly and greeted those they saw with smiles and open hearts.  It hurts my heart that a place I remember being filled with so much love is now being connected with so much hate.

I’m thankful for the updated news reports and articles that show that neither the high school nor the church agree with or encourage what this group is doing.

In the gay rights movement, there are a lot of strong opinions.  Through the story of what’s happened in Sullivan and with my mom, we’ve seen that hate is still being expressed - on both sides.  

It’s time to come together and rise above the hate.  

Regardless of whether you are Christian who is for gay rights or against gay rights, it’s important to remember that all Christians are called to love.  It was the second commandment Jesus gave to us.  “A man shall not lie with a man as he lies with a woman” etc. etc. never came out of Jesus’s mouth.  In fact, Jesus himself never says anything directly condemning homosexuality. 

What Jesus himself did say, was a lot about love.

Would you feel loved if someone refused to be in your presence because of your beliefs?  

Would you feel loved if someone told you that loving the person you chose “offends” them?  

I suppose everyone has a right to feel what they feel and believe what they believe, but let me ask the often pondered question: What would Jesus do?

The Jesus I remember dined with the Pharisees and tax collectors.  He befriended known prostitutes, and he lounged with lepers.  

He spent time with all the people that nobody else wanted to spend time with.

That Diana Medley would use Christianity as her excuse for this behavior shows me that she does not fully understand this Christ that she claims to follow.  As a follower of Jesus’s teachings, I’m dismayed that she would do anything but greet these gay students of hers with open, loving arms.  

Refusing to go to a dance because your gay students are going to be there is not showing them that you "care about them".  You telling them you think they’re “offensive” is just down right mean.  And Jesus would never do something like that.

We have to accept the fact that in this day and age, we’re going to have to interact with people we don’t understand – people who live completely different lives than us.  

And that’s ok!  You don’t understand homosexuality?  Well whatever, who cares.  I don’t understand how you don’t understand homosexuality, but I’m not going to love you any less for it. 

That’s the beauty of being able to live on this earth and experience all we do here!  Lean into the discomfort and have faith that as long as you’re loving, you’re doing the right thing!

Jesus tells us, “the kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:21).  So take a moment, breathe, and meditate on that.  

Follow your heart and LOVE!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Think of the Different Perspectives - Send Love, Not Hate!

Debbie Brewer. 

She’s the secretary at First Christian Church in Sullivan, Indiana.  And she’s my mom. 

The Sullivan First Christian Church made national headlines recently due to being the meeting place of a small group of people getting together to discuss plans to host an alternative “traditional prom” where gay students will not be allowed.  Unfortunately, the media made it seem as if the church was behind the meeting and supported it.  And this is simply false.  All the church did was open its doors for the community members to meet.

Let me take a minute to tell you about my mom, Debbie Brewer.  She is the mother of five (yes, FIVE!) children.  (All five births were all natural, no pain meds.)  That alone makes her superwoman. 

She is also madly in love with my father.  I am one of the fortunate ones in my generation – My parents are still married and happy together.  They are the epitome of love and how a marriage should be, and they have always been admired as such.

Another thing you need to know about my mom is that she radiates with love and kindness.  She is a constant demonstration of true agape love, and I have always admired her for that.  Her kind and gentle soul taught me to love deeply.  I’m proud to say that so much of my love comes from her.

And lastly, she had nothing to do with Diana Medley and the group of people who met at the church.  Diana Medley doesn’t even attend the church.  All my mother did was unlock the doors so they could meet.

After all this gay-banning news went viral, Dan Savage (founder of the It Gets Better campaign) got a hold of the information and posted a blog about it.  (He wasn’t that friendly, but I can’t say I don’t agree with the majority of what he said.)  In his expose, he posted the contact information of the church (MY church), assuming the church was in favor with the group. 

I was stunned when I saw the numbers: (812)268-4348.  The number I know so well.

My mom’s voice is on the other end of that number.

And so, as feared, she was faced with a barrage of phone calls all day long.  Everything from the condescending quandaries of “how many doves have you released this month?” to the more affirming interviewers who truly want to know the church’s side of the story.

Along with the phone calls came many other, terrible things.  The fax machine was printing a constant flow of gay pornography, to the point where they decided just to turn it off.  The staff’s inboxes were flooded with thousands of pornographic images and messages. 

My sweet, kind, gentle mother.  Exposed to these unneeded obscenities.

Diana Medley didn’t have to deal with these images and messages and calls all day long.  Neither did any of those students who were so “appalled” at gays that they couldn’t stand to see them at their proms.  Nor the narrow-minded parents.

My mother is the one who had to deal with that whole mess all day.  And she didn’t even have anything to do with it all. 

Now there’s all this national attention and everyone has an opinion and wants to get in their say.  Blind assumptions made in haste often lead to lashing out in hate and anger at those who are simply innocent bystanders.  Those people calling my mom don’t know anything about her.  They don’t know about her five kids and how much she loves her husband.  They also don’t know that she had a brother who was gay.  He died of AIDS in the late eighties.  I wonder how differently some people who called might have treated her had they known that.

The people who are sending these messages are not doing so in support of the cause.  The cause is LOVE and ACCEPTANCE!  Not hate!  The cause is to END hate!

All these messages and terrible things sent to my mom and her coworkers are doing nothing but perpetuating the sick-cycle of hate!  As my older (and wiser) brother Mike said, “You can’t stop hate with hate!”

My mom received a lot of undeserved hate yesterday.  So much that she was in tears the majority of the day.  And inconsolable after she got home from work.  That makes my heart really, really, really sad.  She is one of the most kind and loving women you’ll ever meet.  And she didn’t deserve all that hate.

So, I’m asking you to take a minute and send my momma some love today!  Message her on Facebook, leave a comment below, or even call her up at the church!  Let her here some friendliness and love in between the other calls!  If you have access to a fax machine, fax her images of the most adorable things you can find.  (Have you ever seen a baby hedgehog??  Google it. Now.)

Let’s send her a barrage of love.  A plethora of pleasantness.  Something to help her (and me) start believing in humanity again.

And Dan Savage, if you ever read this, would you mind taking down the church’s contact info from the article on your blog?  Or at least edit it showing that the church is in no way supporting this group?  Or maybe leave the info up but just tell your readers to send my momma some love!  She’s the one facing the ramifications of all this mess, and it’s just not fair.

You can’t stop hate with hate!  You can only stop hate with love.  In all things, LOVE!

I love you, Momma!!! 

Monday, February 4, 2013

Stronger and Happier Than Ever

Ok, so despite my initial freak-out when not getting a teaching job, this little break I decided to take this semester is so starting to prove to be well worth the extra $10K in student loans I took out to make it happen.  (Hey, it's for my academic and spiritual growth, so it's priceless, right??)

For reals though, I have never been more happy in my life.  I'm surrounded by nothing but phenomenal people, I'm singing my heart out, I'm writing down my soul, and I have a husband and two kids in my life who I love more than I knew was possible.  I get to meditate for hours and have the time to turn my house into a comfortable home (wait till you see my feng shui pictures...).  I have plenty of time to do things that truly fulfill me.  I have plenty of time to study and learn about all the things that interest me.  And most importantly, I have plenty of time to be in the quiet to sort it all out.

Things really are going great.  We're settled in our new home, we have a nice routine with the boys, and this tiny mountain home just radiates with love.  The boys are both doing awesome.  I'm starting to tutor Matisse once a week on his reading, and things are going really well.  He's getting so grown up and amazes me every day.  I've really started to cherish our one on one time together.  Julien is still as silly as ever.  He's doing great in school and is becoming a whiz on iPad games. ;)

Dustin is stronger and happier than I have ever seen him.  He's such an amazing father and those boys adore him.  He's enjoying his new job as an electrician.  A bit of a change of pace for him, but he's settling in and feeling confident.  He's started to learn a bit of tai chi and falun dafa for when he meditates.  It's drastically helped with his depression.  So much that we are going on month three of him being off antidepressants.

For those of you who don't know, Dustin's struggled with depression since he was a kid.  When he was 15, he was prescribed Zoloft to help.  He's been on it (or something similar) since then.  He's tried several different strategies in the past to try to get off the meds, but he's hasn't been able to go a few weeks before he can barely get out of bed and goes back to the pills.  We'd come to accept that he needed them and that was ok.  Just like diabetics need insulin, those who struggle with depression need something to balance the chemicals in the brain.

Since moving to Asheville, we've become more conscious about what we put into our bodies as well as the power our bodies hold.  If everything we believe in is true, then managing depression without the use of meds is possible.  So we're trying it.

I am so, so, SO proud of Dustin.  He gets up early every morning to do his meditation, and then he does it again every night before bed.  He's good at recognizing when the negativity arises (as opposed to being in denial and getting defensive) and he's learning to change his thought patterns to make it go away.  He's never been off Zoloft this long since he started taking it, and he will tell you today that he's never been happier.  Yes, some days are a lot easier than others, but we work through the bad days together.  And yeah, he's a bit more emotional these days (Oh, let's face it, we've both been sentimental bawl-bags lately...we can barely look each other in the eyes without tearing up).  But he's also more connected and more in-tune.  He's finally realizing his worth and taking the time to take care of his basic needs, to heal from within.  He's surrounded by so much love and positivity which helps, too. :)

So yes, we're doing great.  Still working on the baby-making.  All these lifestyle changes we're making is definitely going to help in the fertility area.  Let's face it, this is probably the first time in two years that I have not been completely and utterly stressed out nonstop. ;)  It feels good to slow down and breathe.

On another baby note, my big sister Stacey IS pregnant!  This is so so exciting for her and her husband Kyle.  A bit unexpected, but a happy surprise.  And no, I'm not a crazy emotional mess over the fact that almost EVERY woman close to me is pregnant right now.  Of course it's hard and I'm uber jealous, but I love them all so much and am so happy for them.  Another post is in the works about all this "surrounded-by-pregnancies" thing. ;)

Whew, well I think I've rambled enough for the day.  Gonna go take these pups on a little walk since it's GORGEOUS out (low 50's and SUNNY!).  I'll leave you with some pics I took this morning.  Matisse and I have about a half hour to kill between when we drop Julien off to school and when he can be dropped off.  So we took a little detour this morning.  We put on some Imagine Dragons (yes, Matisse's favorite album - amazing, I know) and drove up a mountain.  And this is what we saw. :)


Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Yay Internets!

My Writing Desk and new Lappy :)

I'm so excited to finally have internet at the house!  And that I have a new laptop!  It will make blogging much easier since I won't have to leave the house, can do it in my pjs, and have a computer that actually functions properly. :)

So yes, thanks to student loans, I got a MacBook Pro.  I figured, what the hell, why not.  Nikki's had her MacBook for 6 years and it still works perfectly.  I've had my Dell for 4, and it's going downhill fast.  The battery doesn't hold a charge, it freezes up and shuts off randomly, the screen doesn't stay in place, etc, etc. Not good for a writer/student.  So the upgrade was needed.

Speaking of my writer/student role, things are going well so far.  I got off to a bit of a rough start, but am finally all caught up and on track.  I still haven't decided what to work on for my main piece in my writing course. I'm playing around with the idea of writing a sci-fi short story, but we'll see.  I've never attempted fiction before, so it's a little daunting.

Some good news - Nikki got the job!  Tyler hired her yesterday and today is her first day at the shop. :) She's technically part-time for now, but her hours will be pretty heavy.  Tyler still wants to keep his options open for a new manager, and honestly, I think he's kind of enjoying himself running the store. :)  But he still had to hire someone because Sunday was CJ's last day.  He and his girlfriend, the adorable Jen, are moving to Brevard which is about an hour away.  And he got a new job working on a farm like he dreamed, so they're really happy!  So Nikki will take over CJ's full-time shop hours for now.  We're all really happy and thankful and excited for this new opportunity for her.

In other random, up to date news:

There's still no word on my wedding ring (but I'm not giving up hope!), so I got a new ring to wear on my wedding finger.  Thanks to the $25 case at Himalayan Imports downtown, I have a beautiful silver and lapis ring.  I didn't know much about lapis before buying it, I just thought it was a pretty stone.  But after doing some research, it's kind of the perfect stone for me as far as my whole "spiritual journey" blogging goes. And I keep hearing that blue is a good color for writing and creativity, so it's perfect. :)

The music-making stuff is going well!  We recorded a song with Morgan on Friday that a friend of hers is putting on a project for grad school in music technology (or something like that).  It was SUPER duper fun and I loved every second of it!  AND we officially have a show booked for Fri. March 8 at Firestorm in Asheville.  So so pumped. :)

My new schedule has really enabled me to get a little more settled in our little home.  I've become quite obsessed with Feng Shui and am working on a post with pictures of my newly feng-shui(ed) living room. :)  Gecky is still doing great.  He sure does love fruitflies.

All in all, I'm pretty happy and life's pretty awesome. :)



Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Band Practice!

Last night we had “band practice” at our house.  Our friend Morgan is a beautiful singer and songwriter, and we’ve started jamming together.  She has a lot of original songs we’re working on and some other fun covers, too.  We all played at an open mic last week at Firestorm (this cute little bookstore/cafĂ© downtown, where Sarah (Rebecca’s sister) works).  Morgan was offered a gig there, so she asked us to play with her.  So we’re booked for Friday, March 8th!

It feels SO GOOD to be singing again.  And I’m honored to get to sing with someone like Morgan!  That girl can sing, and she inspires me to be a better singer.  I’ve noticed over the last week or two that I’m just happier when I’m singing.  My friend Julie was over last night for practice, too, and she said how beautiful and glowing I was and how I had to sing more.  I was kind of shocked considering I hadn’t showered in two days, was still in my pajamas (furry purple and pink slippers and all…), and really didn’t know what was going on with my hair. 

This music feels really good.  My voice was meant to harmonize with Morgan’s.  It’s amazing how easy and naturally it all comes.  And then I get to look over and see my gorgeous husband strumming along on the guitar.  Makes my soul happy!!

So yeah, I’m singing at a little coffee shop in downtown Asheville next month.  With Dustin and one of my new bffs.  Pretty freaking cool. J

Here’s a tiny taste.  It was the only one we remembered to record.  This was Morgan introducing a new song to us.  Simple, cute, and profound.

Yay music!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Writing Journal Week 1

One of the classes I'm taking this semester is the third level of a creative writing series. I've taken the other two classes past semesters, and I absolutely loved them. I didn't take any creative writing classes during my undergraduate, so this has been a great chance for me to explore writing and work with an amazing instructor who encourages me and helps bring out the best in my writing.

Since my goal for this semester of not working is to work on my writing more and build up both this blog and Soliloquy of the Soul, I've decided to share most of the writing that I do for this course. It will give me a chance to get more feedback from my readers, and it will just help me express myself and feel more fulfilled (which is the whole point of this semester hiatus for employment).

Every week, we have to submit journal entries, so this is journal entry #1. I'll post my journal every week as well as any creative writing that I work on. Then, once I start working on my main piece for the semester, I'll post it, too.

Enjoy, and thanks for reading!!

Journal Entry #1

I am excited as I start this new semester and dive into my writing once again. I feel like I’m more open now than I have ever been in my life, so I’m excited to see what pieces evolve throughout the semester. After all I’ve experienced in the last two years, I feel like I’ve really grown and matured. I’ve been sorting a lot of stuff out (especially within the last six months), and I feel like I’m finally ready to get some thoughts down on paper. I quit my job last month to go back to teaching, and ended up not getting a teaching job. So I took enough out in student loans to pay rent for the semester, and now I’m just focusing on my two grad school classes and my writing. It’s amazing to think of how much time I’ll have now to write. I finally have the open schedule I’ve always dreamed of, and I think I’m really going to blossom this semester. I finally have time to devote to me to just explore, learn, and write.

It’s important, I’ve found, to devote time to fulfill your basic needs, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. It doesn’t matter how long my to-do list is or how much laundry or dirty dishes are laying around; if I don’t make quiet time for myself to meditate and journal every day, then I’m not at my best. It seems I’ve always tried to put off writing with the excuse of too many other important things I should be doing. Now that I’ve finally realized I need that time to write, it seems that the universe has given me that time.

I have big dreams as far as my writing goes. I truly believe that it’s going to be a big part of my life, career, and overall success. I believe that I’m meant to help others through my writing and that the only thing holding me back is myself. It’s time for me to believe in myself and to stop hiding and running away from what I’m meant to do. No one is meant for mediocrity. We all have the power within us to shine and create the happy, fulfilled lives that we want. It’s time for me to embrace that power within and live the life I’ve always dreamed of.

I’m excited to learn more about the writing craft this semester and really take my writing to that next level. I look forward to honing my skills even more to create thoughtful, provocative, and inspiring pieces that express the essence of who I am and the kind of writer I want to be.