Homosexuality Isn’t Contagious…

…I really want to add an expletive, but that just wouldn’t be right, would it? I have encountered a couple instances of plain old ignorance in the past week, and that, of course, prompted this blog. As the mother of three daughters, I have always prided myself on staying out of their fights. I was not a mom who got in the middle of their drama, and I didn’t call other moms complaining that their girls were picking on my babies. I have seen lots of girls make up the next day, while the parents continue to bash one another. That isn’t pretty. I also know that many times (most times?) my daughters probably had some part in whatever was going on. Even when I saw the hateful messages sent by the mean girls, I refrained (as hard as it was) from getting involved. Consequently, my girls can take care of themselves.

And here comes the however…when adults are hateful, it pisses me off. Ignorance? Well, there is just no excuse for it. So, without using names, I will just put them in my blog, and perhaps they will read it, and realize how ridiculous their words were.

The first incident was last week on – get this – Facebook. A person from the church we attend posted the following:

Here’s my two cents worth on this gay football player getting all this attention. I heard a preacher many years ago say that God made ADAM AND EVE NOT Adam and Steve. We just celebrated Mother’s Day. If this stupidity continues somewhere down the line we won’t have Mother’s day. Come on people WAKE UP!!!

First of all, I am really sick of the whole ‘Adam and Steve’ thing. Grow up. But then there is the ignorant part: Seriously? Everyone is going to DECIDE to be gay, so we won’t have any more kids, hence no more Mother’s Day? That’s ignorance at its finest. I tried to reply as respectfully as my ticked-off brain would allow. I told him that homosexuality is NOT a choice, and that because I have a daughter who is gay, I am offended by his post. And then, another church-goer replied:

 Let UM HAVE IT GARY. HOPE IT,S NOT TOO LATE.

(I won’t even touch the errors). And people wonder why so many people don’t attend church? Thankfully, we have an awesome church, and this is not the norm. I considered not returning because I will not go anyplace where my daughter is not welcome, but after some online conversations with my minister, I knew that wasn’t the answer. I went to church yesterday, and I worked really hard to think nice thoughts, after all, God knows what I am thinking!

I got through that, and only lost one night’s sleep. Then last night hit. My daughter came home, seemed a little down, and headed upstairs. After a short time, I received a text from her (What? Don’t you text from another room – especially another level – to avoid all that walking?). One of her best friend’s mothers decided that her daughter could no longer be friends with my daughter because…yes, you guessed it…she doesn’t want her daughter to be GAY!  Are you kidding me? It’s contagious? Really? I went upstairs to console my now-sobbing daughter. Hearing her say, “Mom, I’m not a bad person,” was heart-breaking. No, she isn’t a bad person. In fact, she is one of the best people I know. She is kind, intelligent, athletic, responsible, and beautiful. She is everything I could ask for in a child. She has never been in trouble; she doesn’t touch drugs or alcohol; she is going to serve as president of the National Honor Society; and students and staff respect her. Addison is in every leadership group she can be; she’s an awesome golfer; she is in the top 10 in her class. But because she happens to be gay, a parent won’t let her daughter hang out with her? I want to smack that mother. I am not a violent person (at my size, that would just get me in trouble), but this ignorant woman broke my daughter’s heart and made her question her worth. How dare she. I suspect it might not be so much that she doesn’t want her daughter to ‘catch gay’, but that she is worried what others might think. If she hangs around a gay friend, she must also be gay. Right? This mother is likely more concerned with her own image than with doing what’s right.

I wish people would realize that sexuality is only one part of who we are. There is so much more to a person than whom he or she is attracted to. My daughter is a wonderful friend. She would give her last dime to help someone. She is fun to be around, and so compassionate. She is an excellent listener, and can provide common sense when needed. Certainly, she isn’t out trying to convert heterosexuals to the other side. I told her that when she goes to college, things will be better. When she gets out of this small town, she will be more accepted for who she is. The thing is, for the most part the kids at school have been awesome. It’s some of the adults who are judgmental and small-minded.

What’s the answer? We have to educate people. We, and by that I mean YOU, have to stand up for acceptance. Homosexuality is NOT a choice. Gay teens deserve the same kindness, respect, and friendship as every other kid. People need to quit throwing the Bible at the gay community, especially when they choose to focus on only what doesn’t affect them. In the Bible it says the following are sinful:  divorce, using the Lord’s name in vain, cutting one’s hair, wearing make-up, over-indulgence of food or drink, gambling….you get the point. So why do some people pick out only the verses on homosexuality? Why do they have the right to force their interpretation on me? The overall message of the Bible is to love one another. That’s it. We aren’t called to judge or condemn; we are only called to love.

I’ve said this before, but if you are curious about the whole Bible/Homosexuality debate, there is a book called ‘Torn’ by Justin (Somebody) on Amazon that is fabulous. If you want to help kids like Addison, please share this blog. My daughter is not contagious.

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Rainy Night Thoughts

It’s rainy and I am home alone, so it’s the perfect night to blog (even though I have nothing specific on my mind, so prepare for a bunch of random thoughts). I am still in recovery mode, but not from a big race; I am recovering from our eighth grade class trip to Washington, DC. We left last Thursday at 5:30 pm, traveled all night on a bus, and spent three full days and evenings seeing everything we could possibly squeeze in. We then loaded the buses at 10:00 pm Sunday, and arrived home at 10:30 Monday morning. We had a fantastic trip; our 80 students were incredible. I hope they all realize how fortunate they are to have had that opportunity.

So, for those days, my exercise was walking. Kelly, my friend, DC roomie, and coworker, wore her Garmin (she is also a runner), and we walked over four miles Friday, and that doesn’t include the walking we did indoors at four different museums. On Saturday we walked over six miles. I didn’t get the count for Sunday, but that was the day we went to Arlington National Cemetery, so there was a lot of walking, and it was hilly. Usually when I stay in a hotel, I try to hit the workout room, but after waking up before 6:00, touring all day, and returning to the hotel at 9:30 at night (and we still had to monitor halls while the kids were up), I was absolutely beat. I also planned to run Monday afternoon after I had napped. That didn’t happen. I was exhausted, so I skipped the run. And I skipped running on Tuesday. Yup…I was still tired. 

Today, I had no choice but to go to the gym. I am the instructor; I had to go. I taught a HIIT class this morning, and again, had planned to run two or three miles afterward. That didn’t happen. Perhaps I would run tonight. Nope. I found all kinds of excuses: it’s raining; I don’t want to run on the treadmill; I have laundry to do; I’m still tired. Tomorrow morning I teach two Tabata classes, so I will get a good hour of high intensity intervals in. Saturday I WILL RUN. I have to get back into a routine, and I have to stop making excuses.

Considering how difficult it can be to make myself run or workout, why do I even try? What motivates me to stay fit? I do it for so many reasons; I will attempt to explain.

First, why did I even start exercising? My father died of a heart attack when he was 42; I was seven. When I was 41, I began dreading my birthday. I didn’t think I was going to die, but all I had ever associated with the number 42 was my father’s death. At that point in my life, I didn’t exercise at all, and it was beginning to show. I was completely out of shape, and gaining weight. My husband knew that I was becoming depressed, and (in the kindest way) told me I needed to get a grip or get help. We both decided to exercise, and our sport of choice was running because several of our friends were runners. We also thought it would be inexpensive, which has proven to be a false assumption. We started out just trying to get to one mile, which seemed to take forever. Since 2009, we have run countless 5Ks, a few 10Ks, several half marathons, and Gary has run two marathons. We have both become instructors at Everbody’s Fitness, and have helped others on their fitness journeys. That brings me to the next reason I continue…

Once one puts it out there, whether it’s on Facebook, a blog, an ebook, or in conversation, she is committed to sticking with it. People know that I run and workout, so they ask about it. I can’t imagine saying I quit. People depend on me to encourage, teach, and share. If I didn’t teach early morning classes, I can just about guarantee my butt would stay in bed on those cold winter mornings and those rainy spring days. Knowing my friends are waiting for me motivates me to get up as soon as the alarm sounds. Once I am at the gym, I am always glad to be there. 

Friends…nearly all of our friends either run or workout. My best friends are all runners; we just understand one another. We speak the same language, keep secrets, know we can depend on one another, and love one another. On a run, people tend to open up. We talk about topics that are taboo in our other circles of friends. If I don’t run for a few days, and I see my friends posts about their runs, I know that I need to get out and get moving. When I begin to doubt myself, I know that one of my friends will step up and encourage me, or give me a kick in the rear. 

Confidence. Talk to any runner who got a late start, and I would bet she would tell you that since beginning to run, she has gained confidence in all areas of her life. I know that if I can set a goal, such as running a half marathon after knee surgery, train properly, and achieve that goal (especially at my age), I can also accomplish goals in other areas of my life. 

My body. I have never been proud of my body. Honestly, I always thought about what I wanted to change. I wanted to be taller [in DC, the girls in my group had trouble finding me because they thought I was one of the kids]; I wanted to get rid of my freckles; I wanted to be more shapely; I wanted different hair. Now that I know my legs can carry me over 13 miles in a race, my lungs can support my running, and my heart continues to be strong, I appreciate my body. Is it perfect? Heavens no. But now I appreciate the fact that I don’t have to invest in expensive sport bras; the cheapos do just fine. ‘Nough said. I appreciate that although my legs are short, they can run. Now that I have been doing Tabata for several months, I appreciate that my arms have a little definition (not Michelle Obama arms, but better than they were), and I can easily bust out squats and burpees. For a nana, that isn’t too bad!

My family…Gosh, I love my family. Gary and I are blessed with five incredible kids (38, 35, 25, 22, and 17), and five energetic grandkids (13, 10, 7, 2, 5 months). I want to show them that age is truly just a number. I want them to see that one is never too old to set goals or to challenge her body. I want them to be proud of me, and I think they are. I hope that we are setting a positive example, and that they will always go after their goals. I hope they will always be willing to work hard for what they want. I want to play with my grandkids and be around to see them all marry. My father wasn’t there when I graduated, married, had children, or earned my degrees. I don’t want my daughters to feel that loss when they go through important life events. I want to stick around. 

It makes me happy. Really. As much as working out improves my physical state, it also improves my mental state. I can be in the worst of moods, go out for a run, and come home with a whole new perspective. Sometimes the smallest thing can change my mood when I am running: a student yelling, “Hi, Mrs. Stath!”, an animal that crosses my path (except a skunk – that just annoys me), flowers, or a wave from someone I haven’t seen for some time. 

Running makes me feel strong. Don’t get me wrong – some runs suck. Sometimes I feel like I am going to puke. Sometimes I think I need to find a new hobby. But much of the time, even if it isn’t the best run, I feel awesome when I finish, simply because I can finish. I can do something the majority of the population can’t do, and that feels really good. I thank God for my health and for the ability to workout. I know of far too many people battling illness or injury who cannot walk five miles, let alone run that far. I appreciate what my body can do, and I don’t take it for granted. It won’t last forever, so I will value each and every day that I can get out there. 

I run for me. I see so many parents who live their lives through their children. I love my children immensely, but I also want to have my own life. I want to accomplish my own goals. I have seen parents so wrapped up in their kids achievements, that they act like crazy people. I am proud of my kids, enjoy their activities, cheer when they’re successful, and wipe tears when they’re not. But I recognize that there is always tomorrow, and they need to also experience failure in order to appreciate success. They need to understand that sometimes life isn’t fair. They need to know how to stand up for themselves, and that Momma isn’t going to make everything alright. They don’t have to win in order for ME to feel successful. I have my own ‘stuff’. 

Gosh, now that I have written all that, I want to go out and run! What makes you feel good? Confident? Proud? What do YOU do that you’re proud of?