We aren’t all bigots in Indiana

If you usually read my blog because it’s based on running and fitness, be warned that today it isn’t. At times I just need to write about what’s on my mind at the time, and this is definitely one of those times. This week, Indiana’s leaders, including Governor Pence, signed into law the Religious Freedom Restoration Bill. Let me start by saying I am a Christian. I was raised in the Christian church from birth. I have a strong faith, live a good life, and try very hard to live my life as Christ would want (those who know me know I have a long way to go!). I also have a daughter who is gay. I’ll get to that later.

This week, I am completely dismayed that our representatives can disregard their constituents, and sign a bill that allows discrimination against homosexuals. Here is the legal language of the bill:

Religious freedom restoration. Prohibits a governmental entity from substantially burdening a person’s exercise of religion, even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability, unless the governmental entity can demonstrate that the burden: (1) is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest; and (2) is the least restrictive means of furthering the compelling governmental interest. Provides a procedure for remedying a violation. Specifies that the religious freedom law applies to the implementation or application of a law regardless of whether the state or any other governmental entity or official is a party to a proceeding implementing or applying the law. Prohibits an applicant, employee, or former employee from pursuing certain causes of action against a private employer.

The leaders have said it’s misunderstood: ” they say it’s supposed to be a standard for the courts in cases involving religious freedom.” Bullshit. It allows a business to deny service to someone based on sexual orientation because it’s against the owner’s religion, and the government cannot burden that exercise of religion. Seriously. It’s 2015 and our state just took us back to the 1950s. The leaders have said the bill is just like federal legislation put into action by Bill Clinton. Bullshit. That bill was signed to allow women to wear religious garb in the workplace and Jewish men to wear yamakas without fear of consequences. The intent of these bills is not the same. One was created so that someone isn’t discriminated against, the other allows discrimination without consequences from the government. If that wasn’t Indiana’s intent, perhaps they should have worded it differently. When the entire country believes it encourages discrimination, there’s a problem, Governor Pence.

Multi-million dollar companies have threatened to pull out of Indiana; the NCAA has issues with bringing their athletes to Indiana; people on Twitter have said they will no longer spend their money in Indiana. This law does nothing positive for our state. It makes all of us look like a bunch of unacccepting rednecks. It is going to hurt our economy. And it hurts people. Real, honest, hardworking, contributing members of our communities. George Takei called for a boycott of our state. They are boycotting our state, Governor Pence. I think your hopes for a presidential run just went down the drain along with your integrity.

Christians. As I said, I am one of you. My faith has carried me through many wonderful highs and devastating lows in life. I’ve studied the Bible, and spent hours and hours in Sunday School and church. In none of my Christian education or reading did I learn that it’s okay to turn anyone away. Jesus – whom Christians are supposed to follow – denied service to no one…NO ONE! He spent time with Mary Magdalene, the prostitute; he loved her. He went to have dinner with Zacheus. We sang about it, dammit. The wee little man? Why don’t you remember? Jesus spent his time with ‘sinners’ and outcasts. He showed love to everyone. Saying you can’t serve someone because it goes against your Christian religion goes directly against the teachings of Christ. Will you also refuse to serve the following?

  • Divorced and remarried people? The Bible says they are adulterers. A big no-no.
  • Men and women who had sex before marriage? Sin. It clearly goes against Biblical teaching (there goes your business).
  • Those who use God’s name in vain? Heck, that’s even a commandment.
  • People who covet their friends’ big homes or luxury vacations? Lots of jealous people out there.
  • People who work on Sunday, not keeping the Sabbath holy? Are you open on Sunday?
  • Women who cut their hair or wear make-up? According to the Bible, that’s a sin.
  • People who drink or eat too much? Over-indulgence in food and drink…SIN.

Why do so many Christians choose which ‘sins’ are important? Who do they think they are? The Bible, above all, commands us to love. That’s it. Love. If you disagree with homosexuality, fine. But please know it isn’t a choice. Why would my then 16 year old daughter come to me to tell me she is gay if it were her choice? Why would she put herself out there to face the scorn and judgment of others? No kid wants to be different and be the target of bullies. I am heterosexual – always have been. I couldn’t make myself desire other women if my life depended on it. If I wanted to rebel against my parents or society, I still couldn’t just ‘decide’ to be gay one day. Could you? I got a text from a great friend who is also upset about this new law. She texted, ‘I am straight and the last time I checked, I can’t remember the moment when I ‘chose’ to be straight.’ We have no more control over our sexuality than we do the color of our skin. But it’s illegal to refuse service to people of different ethnicities, isn’t it?

My beautiful daughter is one of the best people I know. She is a senior, preparing for graduation and college. She is in the top 10 in her class, president of the National Honor Society, a golf and tennis player, drama club member, band member, and the list goes on and on. She is kind to everyone, willing to help others, and she’s gay. That’s a small part of the amazing person she is, yet someone could refuse to serve her because her ‘gayness’ goes against his or her religion? Someone could hurt her so deeply because our government won’t ‘burden his or her exercise of religion’? How is that following the Bible? How is that following in Christ’s footsteps? As her mother, it breaks my heart to think that this is even possible.

The implications of this new law will continue to embarrass Hoosiers. I have yet to see one positive aspect of signing this bill. I, despite having been raised Republican, have always stayed out of politics because I despise the double talk, but we have to stand up and be counted. And when the leaders of our state disregard our wishes, we have to fight harder. In a couple of weeks, the anger over this bill will die down, but we can’t let it go. Social media is powerful; use it. Email your representatives. Let fellow Americans know that we are not all bigots. Most of us welcome and encourage diversity. Most of us are loving and friendly. Our governor? Not so much. He had his own agenda, and cares nothing about what he is doing to our state. He is narrow-minded and uninformed. He is not representative of a Hoosier.

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16 Days Post-Op…Losing Patience

I am not a patient person, but it’s expected because patience runs thin on my mom’s side of our family.  It is one of my character flaws, but since I am basking in mid-life, I have just accepted it.  And so I am 16 days post-op, and recovering as expected – by the doctor; I expected a miraculous healing.  I am getting around quite well, but then I forget I just had surgery, and I do something careless,, like try to kneel or squat.

Let’s just say it’s a good thing I’m not Catholic.  At my post-op checkup, I was told I would not be able to kneel for three or four months.  That might not seem like a big deal, but, seriously, have you ever tried to clean a toilet without kneeling?  Wipe up a floor by bending at your waist?  Squat, you say?  Nope.  I can’t do that either.  I have forgotten I can’t do that, and have squatted down to pick something up, and then pain shoots from my kneecap to every single nerve in my hip, foot, and leg.  And then I remember I can’t squat.   Sunday I simply wanted to sit on the couch.  Sometimes I plop down with my legs underneath me.  I tried this, and again, my knee can’t bend that far back.  I made some primal  (is that a word?  Like a sound that comes from a primate?  Pretend it is.) moan causing my husband to ask what I had done.  Ugh…I just wanted to sit down without propping my leg on a pillow.

I was told I could begin to ease back into exercise, beginning with a little walking, biking, and swimming.  Honestly, I am scared.  My knee still hurts, and the thought of turning bicycle pedals makes my belly turn.  I suck at swimming, so I decided I would go for a walk with my friend and coworker Kelly.  I knew she’d bring her kids in a stroller, which would (hopefully) make her walk a little slower than normal.  We walked over two miles, and I made it, but it was hard.  To go from being able to run 13.1 miles, to barely being able to walk – slowly – two miles is slightly discouraging.  Hell, it’s downright maddening.  But it was nice to have some time in the great outdoors with my friend.  Positive…positive…positive!

Yesterday was my daughter’s first high school golf match.  I don’t like golf.  At all.  Won’t ever.  Yes, I’ve played.  Hated it.  But, being the devoted mother I am, I drove out to Christmas Lake to cheer her on.  And then I found out you cannot cheer in golf.  You may softly utter, “Good Ball’.  That little phrase doesn’t make sense to me.  What’d the ball do?  It was a good shot, good drive, nice putt.  Good ball?  I have lots to learn.  Anyway, the coach from the other team told us we could rent a cart for $5.  I considered it, but then thought I could get a little exercise, and none of the other moms were being wimpy and getting a cart, so I walked.  For three hours I walked up and down hills and stood.  That was one of the most ignorant things I’ve done in a long time (other than purchasing the wrong Cubs tickets).  I was hot; there were bugs; my knee hurt; and I was bored out of my mind.  Golf moves at a snail’s pace.  No, slower.  One hole could take 20 minutes.  By the time I got home, my knee ached like crazy, and it actually hurt all night long, which it hasn’t done since right after surgery.

Tomorrow we have another match at the same place.  And, yes, I will be there with my timid little voice, trying not to make jokes or holler, “Way to go, Babycakes!”, and driving a cart.  I will take a book to read or papers to grade, and I will follow my little princess around in a golf cart.  I will find joy in the moment (probably in the form of a Diet Mountain Dew and a candy bar).   I will rest my knee.

I am supposed to be able to run in a couple more weeks.  Today, I can’t even imagine that.   I am pretty hesitant to try much of anything.  The doctor said I won’t hurt anything, but I could slow recovery, which is just what I don’t want to do.  Getting back in shape is going to be rough.  It takes so long to get into good shape, but gosh, it goes quickly once you stop working out.  I won’t be able to teach Zumba for a few more weeks, and I really need feel good about my mobility before taking it on again.  There is so much I want to do right now.  Gary is working out often, so he’s gone a lot, and I am stuck here.  Maybe next week I’ll get brave and attempt the elliptical.  Woo hoo.  I’d have to be desperate to look forward to an elliptical!

After all is said and done, I am healthy, healing, and blessed.  I spoke with my friend Rob today, and he is currently battling cancer – and winning.  He has the best attitude, believes in the power of prayer, and has been fighting like hell.  If he can take on that challenge without complaining, I think I need to get over myself, be glad I only have a knee injury, and quit whining.  Well, I will quit whining about recovery, but will likely continue to whine about golf until mid-September.   To Rob…You keep up the good fight!   Our family, particularly Morgan and Bethany, have been blessed to have you and Angela in our lives.  We, along with countless other Prayer Warriors, will keep on praying!

Peace and Love….

Some Random Thoughts…

WARNING:  Random thoughts and possibly some stream of consciousness writing ahead!  Typically when I sit down to write a blog, I have some sort of plan.  I teach my students to pre-write; you have to have a plan!   Well, today I don’t have a plan, just some thoughts.  Here it goes…

First, I want to address my friend, Emily’s blog.  She became aware of a website on which people can anonymously post anything they want, including insults about anyone.  They can post the names of others, without having to post their own names.  Wow.  What guts it takes to sit at a computer bashing people, without attaching one’s own name to the post.  Why would any person with a conscience participate in such a forum?  Their lives must be rather pathetic if they fill their time by tearing others down.  I have never liked people who constantly criticize others, and who cannot be happy when someone is successful.  You know the type:  She thinks she is really something since she got that job.  She thinks she is so great since she lost weight.  He thinks he is better than everyone since he got that promotion.  How can they afford that big house?  Blah, blah, blah.

 Having been the topic of gossip in this town, I know it hurts.  It is easy to say we don’t care what others think, but deep down, those comments sting.  No one is perfect; we have all said or done things we aren’t particularly proud of, but gossips love to take those weaknesses and build elaborate stories.   I cannot sit here and say that I have never participated in gossip; that isn’t true.  What I can say is that I do my best to avoid it.  I know in the past there were some pretty nasty stories about me floating around, and that people said they knew it was true.  It wasn’t.  Though it was a difficult time, I learned many lessons.  Unless I have seen something myself, or have spoken with the subject of the gossip, I don’t believe much of anything.  I try to look deeper, and know that there are always two sides to every story.  And I know that it usually isn’t really any of my business.  We are all curious, but spreading rumors, trashing others, and accepting gossip as gospel is wrong.  Give others a chance.  Everyone has a story; everyone has struggles; and everyone deserves your compassion.

Emily will learn that she has so many friends and supporters, and that those anonymous people who  post negativity likely have very few friends.  Who would want them as friends?  It is hard to not get caught up in the ‘talk’; we want to defend ourselves.  Recently, I have had someone telling our mutual friends a lie about something I said (she twisted my words to her benefit).  While my instinct is to be sure to tell everyone it is simply not true, I don’t want to lower myself to that level.  I would hope that those who know me know better, so I am taking the high road (and it’s hard!).  Will I ever trust that individual again?  Absolutely not.  Okay, enough of that.

Fitness…I am barely running, and it is not going well.  I began physical therapy this week.  I have only had one session, so I can’t really expect to feel a difference, though it would have been nice.  In an odd way, I rather enjoyed the therapy.  Despite the bruises on my leg, I can’t wait to go back for more.  As the therapist was assessing my knee issues, she could come up with no reason for my pain.  Absolutely nothing hurts except running.  I can do Zumba, Pilates, Yoga, jumping jacks, and box jumps.  I just cannot run without pain.  She pushed and prodded, and kept asking if it hurt.  Nope.  I believe she was puzzled.

The best thing about my visit was that the therapist told me to try running.  She wants to see if the therapy is working.  Always one to follow orders, I hit the track with our Biggest Loser team last night.  We did ten stair laps, then took off to run or walk two miles, each at our own pace.  My friend Breanne and I took off together.  My knee began to hurt by the time I’d run a half lap.  Crap.  I went ahead and ran a lap, and then walked.  We continued alternating walking and running, and my knee continued to hurt.  By the time Gary, Addison, and I arrived home, it really hurt.  I have this fear that running might no longer be in my future.  I am fortunate (and keep reminding myself of this) that I can do everything else.  I am still able to work out, and I can still teach my classes.  I have taken this ‘opportunity’ to try new classes, and have found that I like Pilates.  It is difficult, and I feel wimpy, but I will get stronger, and hopefully gain some balance.  One bright spot last night was when Addison ran.  We have been trying to get her interested in running for four years, and she is finally showing some interest.  I bought her some new neon yellow running shoes yesterday, and she tried them out last night.  She ran a mile at a 9:48 pace, which is excellent.  She wants to try some races, and I desperately want to run with her.

I have rambled long enough.  I will leave you with some things to think about today:

  • Rather than bring others down, lift them up!  Give at least three compliments today.  I bet you will feel better!
  • Don’t believe the gossip.  And if you know it’s true, don’t judge.  You don’t know their stories.
  • Get active!  If you focus on improving your own health, you won’t have time to worry about others’ lives.
  • Likewise, if you feel good about yourself, you will want others to have that same feeling.
  • DON’T EVER PARTICIPATE IN AN ANONYMOUS FORUM!  If you have something important to say, put your name with it.  Address the person directly rather than online.  This goes for Facebook, too.
  • Have an outstanding day!

For My Father

My father is the handsome man on the left in the second row. The handsome man in the front is my Uncle Dave, who also died much too young. My mother is partially hidden, the woman on the far right in the back row.

On this Father’s Day, I cannot help but think of loss.  My father, Rex Greenland, died suddenly of a heart attack at the age of 42; I was seven.  Though I was young and have few memories of my dad, I have many memories of the day he died.  The night before, my sister, Bobbi, had graduated from high school.   After the ceremony, I went to spend the night with my grandmother because we were moving the next day, and I would only be in the way.  We were moving from Hammond, Indiana to Hobart, Indiana, which is about 30 minutes away.  My father owned a company in Hobart, The R.W. Greenland Co; the business made rock that goes in the bottom of aquariums.

On Saturday morning, the phone rang at Grandma’s house.  I followed her to the phone, and could tell that something was wrong.  Really wrong.  Upon replacing the phone, Grandma said, “Honey, lay across the bed and cry.  Your daddy just died.”  The rest of the day was a whirlwind of activity.  Our neighbors and people from our church jumped in and helped us finish moving as we tried to process what had happened.  That day would change the course of our lives.

As an adult, I still miss my father terribly.  I miss having a father.  When I see daughters with their dads, I feel that pang of jealousy.  At times, I have had to leave the room when television shows or movies depicting a father’s death are on.

I often wonder what our lives would be like had he lived.  What career would I have chosen?  Would his business have grown and been successful?  At every meaningful event in my life, I wish my dad were there to share the moment with me.  Would he be proud of me?  When I have made poor choices or failed at something, I wonder if he would be disappointed, or supportive and encouraging.  What kind of grandfather would he be?

I have had so many questions for my dad over the years, and have yearned for his advice.  When my friend and I opened a business several years ago, I grieved at not having my dad to go to for business advice.  I have spent a lot of time wondering what about me is like my father.  Do I get my ambition from him?  Do I get my work ethic from him?  Am I somehow carrying on his legacy?

I know, without a doubt, that my father is present in my life.  He was a wonderful musician, even composing his own music.  My youngest daughter, Addison, inherited his musical ability.  She has taught herself to play the piano, and as I hear her play, I know my father, without ever having known her, has touched her.   It is such a blessing to hear her working to play songs written by my father; I know he is proud as his music is played by his granddaughter all these years later.

I turned 42 three years ago.  The year prior to that particular birthday, I was filled with dread.  Almost my entire life, all I had associated with the number 42 was my dad’s death.  I was quickly becoming depressed, and knew that I needed to find a better way to handle turning 42.  My husband and I had been talking about exercising, and several of my friends had begun to run.  I hated running.  Even when I was a kid I hated running.  I envied runners as I passed them on the road, but I knew I could never be one of them.  Then my husband, who has an artificial knee and is 16 years my senior, began to run.  Crap.  What excuse did I have?  For my 42nd birthday, I began to run.  It was slow going at first.  I would run 1/4 mile, and then walk.  Gradually I worked my way up to running a mile without stopping; that was a huge accomplishment for this anti-exercise-junk-food-eating mom.  As the months went on, rather than focus on my loss, I focused on keeping my own heart healthy (my dad’s brothers also died very young of heart-related problems), and on living life to its fullest.  We began running 5k races, and we were hooked.

I am so blessed that through prayer, the support of my husband, and the advice of friends, I chose to honor my father’s memory by improving my health – both mental and physical.  I think my dad is probably pretty proud of the progress I have made over the past three years.  I have run many 5Ks, a couple of 10Ks, and three half marathons – and it all started with 1/4 mile on the treadmill.

I also wanted to use my story to help children deal with grief, so a year ago, my first children’s book, Dear Daddy:  When a Parent Dies, was published.  It is based upon my experience, and written in the form of letters to my dad.  If I can help one child through his or her grief, my book has served its purpose.

Through my faith and directing my energy into exercise rather than self-pity, I have been able to cope, and truly believe this was the path God intended for me.  Had my father not died, our family would not have moved to Southern Indiana (my mother remarried a man from this area), therefore I would not have my daughters, nor would I be married to my incredible husband.  I have a good life, and for that I am thankful.  I will continue to run and to step outside my comfort zone so that I can experience this life to its fullest.  We have one shot at living, and it can be taken away without warning.  I strive to make the most of each day.  So along with thinking about my loss today, I am also thinking about my blessings.  I have lost some amazing people over the years, and I miss each of them, but I am so blessed to have known them.

Have a wonderful Father’s Day, Friends!  And be certain to tell those you cherish that you love them!

Who is your mentor?

The other morning, I happened to catch a view minutes of The View.  Sometimes that show gets on my nerves because they all talk at the same time, but on Monday, each of the hosts had a segment about her mentor.  Shari’s was a spiritual mentor, the minister of her church.  Whoopi’s mentor was a director/producer who helped her get started in the business by introducing her to the right folks, and by casting her in movies.

As I listened, I began to consider whom I considered to be my mentor.  I couldn’t come up with just one name because I feel that I have different mentors for different purposes.  The first person who came to mind was Donna Fenn, a dear friend of mine who died about five years ago from cancer.  Donna was an amazing lady.  She was an incredible teacher, a down-to-earth friend, and someone who made me laugh hard and often.  She is one of the reasons I became a teacher.  My two older daughters were blessed to have Donna as a teacher, and I was fortunate enough to spend time in her classroom, both with my girls, and as an observer when I was working on my teaching degree.  I couldn’t wait to have a classroom and to be able to teach with Donna.  Unfortunately, that never happened.  Donna’s cancer was aggressive, and in much too short a time, took her life.  Her death was truly tragic because she had so much to give and brought such light into our world.  I have missed Donna every day.  I miss watching her with my girls; I miss going to church with her; I miss her laughter when she did something silly; I miss learning from her.  Anytime something comes up at school that I struggle with, I wonder how Donna would have handled it.  I think about how she loved and nurtured children.  I strive every day to be just half as good as she was, and for that, I am a better teacher.  She helped shape the person I am today.

Two others whom I consider to be my mentors have also lost battles with cancer.  One was my Aunt Loretta, and the other was my Great Aunt Martyne.  These ladies were so very special.  They were the type who made me feel better about myself just by being around them.  When I went through hard times, they never judged me, they just continued to love me.  They both enjoyed life, and cherished their families.  I want to be the type of person who uplifts others.  I want to make those whom I come in contact with feel better about themselves after having spent time with me.  I really don’t know how to go about doing that; I hope it is a gift passed down to me by my dear aunts.

I also have running mentors.  My friend Kim is my ‘go-to’ girl for running advice.  She is the one who kept encouraging me to just get to that first mile.  She has been an amazing supporter, and I hope that I, too, can always give her the support she needs.  My boss and friend, Laura, was also a major influence in my early running.  I would whine to her that I would never be able to run very far, and she would tell me that she knew I would run a half marathon.  She was right.  Her belief in my ability helped carry me through when I didn’t really believe in myself.  My husband is an amazing running mentor.  Had he not first laced up his running shoes, I would never have taken my first step.  Seeing this man, who is 16 years my senior AND has an artificial knee, get out and start to run forced me to drop all of my excuses and give it a try.  There are times when running is so difficult for him it would be easy to just give up, but he keeps on getting out there, and that keeps me out there.  When I am feeling ultra whiny and wondering why I ever thought I could call myself a runner, I think about the effort Gary puts in, and I keep putting one foot in front of the other.  My running mentors, along with the girls who listen to me whine while running – Jackie, Kassi, and Jennifer – are so appreciated.  I probably don’t tell them that often enough, so hopefully they’re reading!

Doing the right thing.  It seems like an easy concept, but it isn’t always that easy, is it?  Sometimes we just get pissed, and doing the wrong thing is our natural reaction.  Sometimes we are tired, and doing the wrong thing is just easier.  Sometimes we just don’t like certain people, and THEY do the wrong thing, so why should we do the right thing?  I struggle with this (shocking, I know!).  So I happen to have a ‘do-the-right-thing’ mentor.  And I also happen to be married to him.  My husband has made me a better person.  He honestly lives his life by doing what is right, even when no one is looking.  He is the most selfless person I know.  He is always willing to help someone, even when it is most inconvenient.  When I have a decision to make, I know that I can count on him to lead me in the right direction, even when sometimes that means going the opposite way that my selfish self wants to go.  Gary does all of this, but not many people know about it.  One of the most impressive qualities about my husband is that he is always serving others, but wants no recognition for that service.  There are many people who help out their communities, but every time they do something good, they also have to have their pictures in the newspaper so everyone knows about it.  Not Gary.  He works behind the scenes.  He does it because it’s the right thing to do.

I cannot list my mentors without listing my sister.  I would consider her my faith mentor.  She is eleven years older than I, but rather than think that I was just an annoying little sister (which I was), she has always been so good to me.  She has been my biggest cheerleader, no matter what I have tried.  I have always said I could run a house of prostitution, and she would still say I ran the best one around.  My sister has amazing faith, and it has carried her through some dark times.  The strength she has through her faith in God is incredible, and has, in turn, made my faith stronger.  My sister is also the kindest person I know.  She is just genuinely sweet – though I have seen a little spunk in recent years.  I appreciate my sister and her love so much.  I hope that I have been able to show that love and support to her.  She is a great mom, aunt, and wife as well.  Much of who I am is because of who she is (Feel free to quote me on that !).

Who is your mentor?  Do you have that one person in your life who has influenced you, or are there many?  Who do you mentor?  I don’t know of anyone who would consider me a mentor, but I hope that I can make a difference in others’ lives.  I love my nieces and nephew dearly, and hope that in some small way, I have served as a role model to each of them.   I hope that Donna and my aunts knew how much they meant to me, and that Kim, Laura, Gary, and Bobbi know the influence they have had on my life.  I know that there will be other mentors as I continue on my journey.  I would love to have a writing mentor.  I secretly consider Kristen Armstrong to be a mentor, though I have never met her.  She is a runner, who has the perfect career of getting to write about her running and her faith.  I love her open, honest style of writing.  Maybe she’ll mentor me…

My Sister, Bobbi and I…

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