Wednesday, August 29, 2012

My Upbeat Challenge For September.

Politics. Culture wars. Social media fueling tension between otherwise good and decent people. I say, enough already.

I have been guilty of focusing on too much of the negative. Somebody says or writes something outrageous. It can be a politician, talking head, celebrity... heck, even some unknown with access to the Internet. It doesn't really matter who, just that some idiot says or writes something hateful or ridiculous.

Next, the words are repeated. Not a lot, just often enough that someone else with a loud enough voice hears or reads them. Then, the words finally go viral.

And then comes the worst of it. Otherwise rational people begin parsing and dissecting and defending or attacking the words. So many of us devote all kinds of time (that we really don't have) on something that really has no bearing on our daily lives.

I am so, so guilty of this. I've lost countless hours to arguing and attacking and defending, and for what? None of that means anything in the big scheme of things.

I can do better. I will do better. And I'm inviting everyone to join me.

I am challenging myself this September in my Upbeat Challenge. I will focus on the positive instead of the negative. Rather than being mad that some idiot made a horrible comment, I will be glad that some amazing person is out there doing something good in this world.

Positive stories of people doing good things. That is where I will focus for the whole month of September. No posts and no comments on the negative stories. And I'll try to not even read them. I'll just skim right on by. It's time to put good stuff into my own head.

It won't be easy, but I think it will be worth it.

Bring on the good news!

P.S. I'm starting a few days early. I need to.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Week 10 Recap - Summer of Run

And another week comes to an end.

Saturday, August 25th, was the end of week 10 of my Summer of Run Challenge.

  1. I ran all seven days.
  2. I ran at least one 10-minute mile each day.
  3. I ran more than 15 miles for the week.
Here's how it happened:

And the challenge recap so far:

This was a good week, but it started with a tough half marathon. More details on that separately, but I'm glad to have that one behind me. I feel like I struggled through the whole week with short distance, too. The beating I took Sunday really slowed me down all week.

Unfortunately, it was the first week that my overall pace came in higher than ten minutes per mile. I'm not beating myself up over it, just noting that I was slower this week than I have been so far this challenge.

And the Summer of Run continues!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Week 9 Recap - Summer of Run

Wow, where are the days going? It seems like I just wrote a recap and yet, amazingly, two weeks have gone by. Time for me to get caught up!

Saturday, August 18th, was the end of week 9 of my Summer of Run Challenge.

  1. I ran all seven days.
  2. I ran at least one 10-minute mile each day.
  3. I ran more than 15 miles for the week.
Here's how the week happened:

And the challenge recap so far:

My mileage count was low, but I still managed to hit my marks. I chose to end the week with short runs in preparation for my half marathon on Sunday, and I also made it a point to get more outside miles and avoid the treadmill. 

The Summer of Run continues!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Week 8 Recap - Summer of Run

Saturday was the end of week 8 of my Summer of Run Challenge.

  1. I ran all seven days.
  2. I ran at least one 10-minute mile each day.
  3. I ran more than 15 miles for the week.
This was not a long-distance week for me, but I still managed to run 16.57 miles.

Here's how the week happened:

And the challenge recap so far:

It wasn't a great week, at least at the start. I felt sluggish and heavy on  most of the runs, like it was an effort just to be out there. Midweek, in fact, I was really struggling. But while I was out on one of my earlier runs, one of my SparkBuddies and real life friends, Jerome, reminded me that I just needed to focus on the one run I was doing, as I was doing, and let the rest of the week sort itself out.

Made a total difference. The rest of the week was good and I felt back in control of my challenge miles.

And the Summer of Run continues.

Monday, August 13, 2012

It's Your Turn To Get Involved With "From Fat To Finish Line."

The twelve runners are still training, preparing for our Ragnar Relay from Miami to Key West. Now, YOU can join the team, too.

Watch the video. Then click on the Kickstarter page and make your pledge to help us get this film made. There are rewards with each level, so pick your prize, make your pledge, and let's make this happen.

(Want to learn more about the film? Check out the film's website here. And keep coming back, as we will be adding more original content all the time.)

Thursday, August 9, 2012

You Say. I Hear.

Homosexuals should not be able to redefine marriage.
Marriage is valuable to me and you don't deserve to have it.

Homosexuals should just leave their private lives at home.
I will talk about my family, my kids, and my home life, but you should hide yours.

Homosexuality is an abomination before God.
You are wicked and sinful and don't deserve to live.

God didn't make you that way. He wouldn't do that.
I should be able to pray enough that these feelings go away.

Being a homosexual is something you choose. You're just confused.
I should be able to choose to be straight.

You can always sign up as domestic partners. 
Your relationship is not equal to mine and you should settle for something less.

Homosexuals are destroying society and tearing at the fabric of society.
You are horrible people who don't deserve to live.

I will continue to pray for you.
I will continue to judge you as a sinner.

You can continue to say what you choose, but know this for certain. Gays and lesbians are not going away. We're not turning back. And we won't allow anyone to continue to treat us as you do. We will be seen and we will be heard.

And your words? We will move on from them, but you will carry them with you for the rest of your days. Choose carefully.

Ask Your Dad Blog: Dear Hypothetically Gay Son

Ask Your Dad Blog: Dear Hypothetically Gay Son: I ran across this letter on Reddit this morning. It is from a father disowning his gay son. It broke my heart. It's not the first time that...

(Reblogged because I can't think of a better way to say any of this.)

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

When Silence Is Significant.

I'll start with a disclaimer. The world is full of stupid people saying and doing stupid things. Politicians. Reporters. Community activists. Religious leaders. Random people hiding behind keyboards and posting on blogs and other social media sites. There are truly countless reasons to feel outrage and anger. No one person can be expected to disavow it all. And that means...
Silence is not approval.
It isn't fair to blame the entire Democratic Party when a state representative says something stupid about gun control. It isn't right to judge every Republican when a local mayor attacks the gay community. And it certainly isn't appropriate to blame all members of a religious group because a small-town church discriminates against someone because of their race. People should not be presumed in favor of a statement just because they share something in common with the person who said it. Groups are made up of individuals, each with unique and varying opinions.

All that said, there also comes a time when silence is significant, when failure to speak up and out against the stupidity of someone else transitions to purposeful denial or, worse, tacit approval. In my opinion, with considering the ongoing attacks from the Religious Right against the gay and lesbian community, that time is now.

Gay men and women are used to being criticized by self-appointed moral and spiritual leaders. We've blamed for everything from the destruction of biblical cities to the attacks of 9/11. We've been called anti-family despite coming from and being part of loving families of our own. We've been called anti-Christian though many of us credit our faith for giving us strength to endure our struggles. And we've been called anti-American in part for standing up and demanding the rights enjoyed by the rest of our fellow Americans. Yes, we are well acquainted with the rhetoric of our adversaries.

But these days, the attack isn't just coming from Far Right and the Religious Extremists. It's coming from much more mainstream sources, as well. And with listening, viewing and reading audiences in the millions, these groups are dangerous to the mental, emotional and physical well-being of gays and lesbians. By demonizing gays, they make it impossible for our community to simply live our lives in peace. They disseminate half-truths (and outright lies), justifying their own bigotry and hatred with a barrage of discredited "experts" who share their same distorted and twisted views. These are the people at war with the gay community.

Sadly, there is little I can do to stop these groups. They enjoy the freedom to assemble with other like-minded people and the right to share their hateful words and bigoted ideas. But that does not mean I am powerless. No, quite the opposite. I do have power. I can educate my non-gay friends so they understand exactly what is happening.

For example, last night, Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association (AFA) posted on Twitter that "... we need an Underground Railroad to deliver innocent children from same-sex households."

According to their website, the AFA is a "pro-family action site (that) promotes traditional family values, focusing primarily on the influence of television and other media on our society." I would like to hear them explain how stealing children away from their homes can possibly be considered "pro-family."

Without revisiting the Chick-Fil-A controversy in detail, I will say that I understand many people supported the restaurant because they felt Dan Cathy was only exercising his right to voice his opinion. I will also point out that his opinion, backed by millions of profit dollars donated, is:
We are inviting God’s judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say ‘we know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage.'
And his donations have also supported organizations that are actively seeking to make homosexuality illegal, to deport gays and lesbians, and to convert them to heterosexuality through brainwashing. These are not just opinions, they are actions that affect the lives of everyone in the gay community.

"So what? He's a restaurant owner. Who cares what he says?" Would you say that about an entire political party in a state? What about the Texas Republican Party Platform for 2012? This is what they have to say about homosexuality:

We affirm that the practice of homosexuality tears at the fabric of society and contributes to the breakdown of the family unit. Homosexual behavior is contrary to the fundamental, unchanging truths that have been ordained by God, recognized by our country’s founders, and shared by the majority of Texans. Homosexuality must not be presented as an acceptable “alternative” lifestyle, in public policy, nor should “family” be redefined to include homosexual “couples.” We believe there should be no granting of special legal entitlements or creation of special status for homosexual behavior, regardless of state of origin. Additionally, we oppose any criminal or civil penalties against those who oppose homosexuality out of faith, conviction or belief in traditional values.
Breaking down the family unity? Tearing at the fabric of society? This is not a fringe group, it is a mainstream political party in one of the biggest states in the nation.

What is breaking down this society are parents throwing their children out into the street instead of accepting them as gay. What is destroying us are the suicides of our teenagers so despondent, so afraid, so sad about feeling like their lives are sinful that a bullet or a noose seems a better choice. What is killing us all is the widespread hate and anger directed at a community that deserves the same freedoms and the same respect as every other American.

When these people speak these words, publish these documents, and air these videos attacking the gay community, we need our non-gay allies to stand up and say, "no more." We need you to speak up to the person next to you and tell them that their words are unacceptable. We need you contact your local representatives and let them know that you do not approve of their anti-gay rhetoric. We need you to tell your local religious leaders that you expect them to lead by example and not support the bigotry and discrimination.

The time has passed when we could all stand by on the sidelines. Failing to speak out means that our opponents will continue to hate, to attack, and to work to shame our entire community.

We need people to speak up. At this point, silence in these matters IS approval.

Silence is significant.

A.A.D. - Adult (Onset) Athletic Disorder

A.A.D. - Adult (Onset) Athletic Disorder:
The unexplainable transformation from couch potato to fitness freak that occurs in adults.

Let's hope there is no cure!


Monday, August 6, 2012

Week 7 Recap - Summer of Run

Saturday was the end of week 7 of my Summer of Run Challenge.

  1. I ran all seven days.
  2. I ran at least one 10-minute mile each day.
  3. I ran more than 15 miles for the week.
At nearly 25 miles, this was my highest mileage week so far this summer. Starting the week off with a half marathon definitely helped that!

Here's how the week happened:

And the challenge recap so far:

It was a good week, and I allowed myself time to recover from the half marathon. But the single mile days still have me feeling like I'm slacking off. I know it's all in my head, but it is what it is.

No. Let me correct that. It is what I make it. And I need to keep reminding myself that my recovery miles are an essential part of successfully completing this challenge.

And on it goes...

"I Am A Marathoner."

In an interview with one of the US athletes, I heard the coolest comment. When asked what being at the Games meant to her, she said:
I'm an Olympian. For the rest of my life, I will always be able say that. I am an Olympian.
And that really resonated with me. For the last twenty-five years, I have able to say that about being a United States Marine. And since October 2011, I have been able to say that about running a marathon, too.
I am a marathoner.
No matter what else I ever accomplish on my physical fitness journey, I will always be able to claim that I am a marathoner.

It's true, I won't ever compete in the Olympics. Few of us ever will. But for a moment, an Olympic athlete and I had one thing in common. We both felt compelled to say something powerful, to lay claim to a title, and to acknowledge a personal accomplishment.

She is an Olympian. Me? I'm a marathoner. And I'm pretty damn proud of that.

Halfway? Yeah, I can do this.

I may not feel like every day is the greatest run ever, but I keep going. And I will complete this challenge.

Friday, August 3, 2012

When "Equal" Isn't.

Forget chicken sandwiches and other shiny things that distract us from what really matters. I'm not concerned with who lined up Wednesday to buy deep-fried "freedom of speech" or who is lining up today to "kiss away bigotry." In the bigger picture, none of these things matter beyond soundbites and dramatic on-site reporting for local news.

What matters to me as an American is equality. And folks, as long as gay men and women are not allowed to legally marry and have that marriage recognized by both state and federal law, we don't have equality.

My husband and I were married first in our church on July 4, 2003 and then again, legally, on July 4, 2008. In the eyes of California law, we are wed. Sounds equal, but it isn't. Because the United States Federal Government does not recognize our marriage, we are still viewed as single. And that matters.

For instance:
  • Jane and Bob are married.
  • Ric and John are married.
  • Jane and Ric work at Acme Company.
  • Acme Company provides 100% healthcare coverage for employees and their dependents.
  • As recognized spouses, Bob and John both are covered under their spouses' plans.
But, because Ric and John are single in the eyes of the Federal Government, the full value of John's healthcare coverage is considered additional income from Acme Company. Ric will pay income tax on the full value of that policy. (In our case, the policy is valued at nearly $1,000 per month.)

So Ric and Jane have the exact same job, same insurance, same coverage, and same marital status. But Ric pays tax on an additional annual income of $12,000. Jane doesn't.

"Equal" isn't.

There are many more examples I could offer, but I don't need to. I have already provided a single example of how denying same-sex couples the right to legally marry creates an inequality under the law.

So the next time you tell me, "you can have all the same rights with a domestic partnership or civil union," please know that you are wrong. Completely wrong. And no amount of "I  have gay friends, I do, but marriage is sacred" is going to change the fact that the current laws deny me the same rights that other Americans have.

And ultimately, sacred is a matter for religious institutions to determine. Equal is a matter for the Constitution to determine... and protect.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Choices Matter.

If you choose to support Chick-Fil-A, I won't attack you for it. I won't assume you hate gay people. I won't dramatically declare that we can't be friends. I will, however, wonder why you would choose to give money to a company that funds organizations seeking to criminalize my private life. I will wonder if you think a crappy chicken sandwich is more important than the rights of gay men and women.

Not sure what I mean? Here's an example. Through their corporate charity, WinShape, Chick-Fil-A has donated nearly two million dollars to anti-gay groups. Specifically, they have donated to the Family Research Council. And what is that group trying to do?

Yep. That group thinks that homosexual behavior should be criminalized. And if they have their way, it will be. They also believe that gays can turn into straights with enough prayer, believe that all gays are pedophiles, and think gays are actively recruiting others into "this lifestyle."

This isn't just about arguing for or against same-sex marriage, though I can't understand why someone who knows my husband and I could possibly think we don't deserve the right to be married. But that's not the worst of this.

If you support a company like Chick-Fil-A, you support organizations like the Family Research Council. And you support efforts to make my personal life against the law.

Yes, choices matter.