01 October 2014

The 30-day burpee challenge

So I've tried this challenge before and failed spectacularly, which is really the best way to fail. But I'm trying it again.

I feel the need for something a little more intense than just yoga in the mornings or getting in my steps each day, so I'm trying the burpee challenge to get me in the habit of exercising a little more intensely much more regularly.

The calendar posted on this blog post is the one I'll be using for this challenge. I like it because I know it will challenge me (especially toward the end of the month), but there are regular rest days that will help keep me from feeling overwhelmed.

Once I finish the challenge I don't know whether I'll continue doing burpees, or try a different exercise routine. It will depend a lot on how I feel on day 31, and where I am in meeting my health goals.

In the meantime, wish me luck. I have five burpees to do today.

30 September 2014

Sticky notes everywhere!

Image source
As I've mentioned many times, I'm the type of person that needs to write things down in order to remember them. That's why I've gone back to using my book, and why I use task lists daily to stay on top of what I need to get done.

Another thing I use frequently is sticky notes. I jot little notes and reminders to myself and stick them with my calendar or task list or on my laptop where I'll see them when I sit down to work.

As a result, my book and task lists are a little sticky note crazy, especially now that we're at the end of the month. Reminders about ending projects, updating files, and generally keeping myself organized as I get ready for October. All in sticky note form.

The reason I like sticky notes added to my calendar and task list is because they can be added, removed, and moved around without crossing things out or using white-out. Much easier for quick notes. And they add a bit of color to my pages, which is always nice.

Do you use sticky notes to help keep you organized?

29 September 2014

Why conceptual gayness is different from practical gayness

When I came out to people, they were largely supportive. In fact, people I thought might disown me or turn their backs on me didn't. Some people were confused and sad and angry, but they seemed to accept it.

And then I started dating, and things shifted.

What was once a non-issue became an issue. People who had once been comfortable discussion marriage equality and LGBTQ rights with me were suddenly nervous about the topics, or were much harder to get in touch with.

A couple of friends seemed to drift away entirely, and this has prompted me to think about conceptual gayness and practical gayness.

For the purposes of this post, "conceptual gayness" refers to someone being gay but not in a relationship. For the purposes of this post, "practical gayness" refers to someone who is gay and in a relationship.

There can be a bit of a shock when someone comes out as gay, even if they are not already in a relationship. Saying you're gay is a shift in thinking for family and friends, but it's manageable. It's just something you are.

But when you make that shift to practical gayness, and show that not only are you gay, but you have every intention of living a "gay lifestyle," people can no longer ignore the fact that you're gay or pretend you're still straight and single. You are really gay.

It's a strange shift because, to me, there was no shift. I was the same person I always was. The only difference was that I was in a happy, healthy relationship. When I said I was gay the first time, I meant it, after all.

And still, conceptual gayness and practical gayness makes things different, I guess.

Is this what people mean when they say they're not opposed to gays as long as they don't "flaunt it"? I have heard people (I know) say, "What you do in the privacy of your home is your business, but don't throw it in my face." Does the public declaration of my relationship constitute flaunting my sexuality?*

Here's the thing: I'm not in the closet anymore. And it irritates me that those in my life who claimed to be supportive of that are now balking at the fact that I closed the closet door behind me.

I haven't changed. I'm still Puck and Tink's mom. I'm still a writer. I'm still mildly addicted to coffee.

I'm just me in a relationship with an amazing, beautiful, wonderful woman whom I love very much. I am gay in the conceptual and practical sense.

And it shouldn't be any different.






-----
*Let's pretend we don't see teenage (straight) couples climbing all over each other and making out in public, oblivious to the world around them. Because that's different from me holding my girlfriend's hand in public.

28 September 2014

Renew Your Spirit Sunday with Autumn

According to my calendar, it's fall now. We've passed the magical day of the autumnal equinox, and the days are continuing to shorten as we work our way toward winter.

According to our electric bill, it's still summer. The weather continues to hover around the upper 80s and into the 90s, and it's rather humid.

Autumn is when I miss the Midwest. It gets chilly earlier in the year there than it does here, and I'm always eager to make the switch from the sweltering heat to the coolness of fall.

And the trees aren't as pretty here. There are trees with leaves that change, but because it stays so much warmer here than in the Midwest, not all of the leaves fall. And there are lots of palm trees, too. It's just not the same.

Autumn is my favorite season. There is just something I love about stepping outside to feel that little bit of a chill in the air and needing a jacket in the evenings and seeing the brightly colored leaves all over. There's nothing quite like snuggling into your favorite sweater or hoodie and wrapping your hands around a hot cup of coffee on a cool morning.

I'm not a big fan of pumpkin spice everything, but I can look past it for everything else.

There's still a little bit of time until I'll feel like autumn is really here. Until then, I'll keep looking longingly at my autumn clothes, waiting somewhat patiently until I can start dressing a little cozier.

Does it feel like autumn where you are?

27 September 2014

Playing school

Now that Puck is in school full days, Tink and I have been spending time during the day working on school-type tasks. Tink and I practice writing letters, identifying letters (and sounds), numbers, colors, shapes.... A lot of what we do is helping prepare her for school next year.

However, when Puck discovered that we were doing that, he decided he didn't want to be left out. So now, some afternoons when Puck gets home, we "play school." Tink and I still do similar tasks, and I have created kindergarten-level tasks for Puck to do (simple math problems, practicing his name, drawing pictures with labeling, etc.). The kids enjoy it very much, and I'm glad for the opportunity to supplement Puck's education.

I don't know how long it will be until Puck and Tink no longer want to "play school" at home with me, but until then, I'll do whatever I can to help them learn and grow in order to be successful academically.

Speaking of which, it's time to work on my "lesson plans" for this week.

26 September 2014

Planning new family photos

Tink and Puck
February 2014
At the beginning of the year, the munchkins and I did family photos. It was the first session in what I planned to do annually to have photographic evidence of the growth and development of my family.

The pictures turned out beautifully, and I made a mental note to do them again in the fall to add to our holiday cards for family and close friends.

Of course, now our family has changed. We're no longer a family of three. With the inclusion of Bo in our family, it's even more important for us to plan new family photos.

So Bo and I will be scheduling a new session for our family photos soon. We want to make sure we get our prints before it's time to send our our family holiday cards.

Some of the pictures we had done at the last session--such as the one pictured in this post--will be recreated in our new session. However, with the addition of Bo to our family, I'm looking forward to new pictures that reveal our family dynamic.

Do you do annual family photos?

25 September 2014

Banned Books Week

This week is Banned Books Week, which is a week every year dedicated to the freedom to read without censorship.

Because let's be honest: banning and challenging books is about censorship. It's about people (parents, members of the community) trying to decide what others should or should not be allowed to read.

The reasons people use to challenge books are subjective at best (offensive language) and invasive at worst (religious viewpoint*), which gives an even better reason not to censor reading in public schools and libraries.

What gives you the right to say I shouldn't read a book because you think the language is inappropriate? What's next?

Can we also not ignore that a lot of the books that are challenged and banned are the ones that are complex, well-written, and excellent literature, while books that are really "brain candy" are left on the shelves, leaving children the inability to challenge themselves? Just want to point that out.

I will never censor what my children read. I will encourage them to read anything and everything they want. They may find something a little beyond them, and when they do, I'll do my best to help them understand it. I will continue to make reading recommendations to my children. And they will always be welcome to borrow anything off my shelves.

Here is a list of the top ten banned/challenged books in 2013 (out of a list of 307 challenges reported by the Office of Intellectual Freedom):

  1. Captain Underpants (series) by Dav Pilkey; Reasons: offensive language, violence, unsuited to age group
  2. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison; Reasons: offensive language, sexually explicit, violence, unsuited to age group
  3. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie; Reasons: drugs/alcohol/smoking, offensive language, racism, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
  4. Fifty Shades of Grey by E. L. James; Reasons: nudity, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
  5. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins; Reasons: religious viewpoint, unsuited to age group
  6. A Bad Boy Can be Good for a Girl by Tanya Lee Stone; Reasons: drugs/alcohol/smoking, nudity, offensive language, sexually explicit
  7. Looking for Alaska by John Green; Reasons: drugs/alcohol/smoking, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
  8. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chomsky; Reasons: drugs/alcohol/smoking, homosexuality, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
  9. Bless Me Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya; Reasons: occult/satanism, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit
  10. Bone (series) by Jeff Smith; Reasons: political viewpoint, racism, violence

I urge you to read books that have been challenged or banned. There are plenty to choose from. Don't shy away from any book. Don't support censorship. Challenge yourself.

And happy reading.






-----
*Oh, you better believe I'll be doing a future post on why religious viewpoint has no place in censoring books in public school libraries.

24 September 2014

Florida speaks out for marriage equality

Image source
There's movement in the efforts for marriage equality all over the country, including my (now) home state of Florida.

In August of this year, a federal judge declared Florida's 2008 marriage amendment unconstitutional. However, there was a 30-day stay put on the ruling to allow for appeals. On September 5th, Attorney General Pam Bondi asked the judge not to lift the stay on the ruling, saying that the decision should be made by the U.S. Supreme Court. She has since filed an appeal on behalf of a court clerk and two Rick Scott employees to overturn the recent ruling in favor of marriage equality. Bondi's position is that the decision should be made by the voters and not by the courts, arguing that the 2008 amendment speaks for Florida's residents.

Rick Scott decided not to prevent the appeal. As far as I know, there has not been a date set to hear the argument at the Eleventh Circuit Court.

This is major progress, and it's good.

However, there is part of me that thinks motions and briefs and appeals and whatever else will be filed and filed to delay at least until the middle of November because Bondi (and Scott) are up for re-election.*

Marriage equality is important to me. It's frustrating to me to think that the state I love and call home has legislation that tells me I'm not allowed to marry someone I love. That my family is less than for something out of my control.

I don't know what's going to happen in Florida, or when. But I hope Florida will stand on the right side of history.






-----
*Which could be a very good thing, depending on who wins the elections.

23 September 2014

Autumn

"Herbst" by Martin Heiß - selbst fotografiert von Martin Heiß
(Originalgröße 3072 x 2048, fürs Web skaliert).
Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.
I'm tired of summer weather.

I'm tired of the car being swelteringly hot every time I get in it, and I'm tired of sweating nearly every time I leave the house. I'm tired of weather being in the upper 90s every day.

Slowly (oh so slowly) the temperature has been falling lately. Where it was once 97 or 98, it's now 87 or 88. We're finally shifting to autumn in central Florida.

Of course, autumn doesn't mean the same thing here as it did in central Illinois, which I'm still trying to adjust to. But I'll still be glad for it to finally feel like a Florida autumn.

I have some clothing items I'll be happy to start wearing (jeans), and a few items I'll be happy to purchase for the cooler weather (new boots). And, more than anything, I'll be glad to open the windows and patio door during the day to let the fresh air into the apartment. I don't like feeling cooped up, which is how I've felt lately. It's been much too hot to turn off the air conditioning and open the windows.

I'm ready for that little bit of chill in the air, even if it's not the same as an Illinois autumn.

22 September 2014

Efforts in reading for pleasure

I've been good at making excuses for not reading lately. Between moving and work ramping up and school starting, life has been busy. So I haven't been making time to read all the books I've started and haven't finished.

So I'm making a renewed effort at setting aside specific time to read.

That being said, here are the books I'm in the process of reading or that are on my current reading list.

The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins

I know that Richard Dawkins is not a good example of what it means to be a human being, but I bought the book and I'm interested in the topic, so I'm going to read it. I likely won't buy any more of his books. I'll be looking at other authors to continue my reading into atheism.

Quiet by Susan Cain

I'm rather late on reading this book about introverts, but I would still like to. So it's still on my list.

Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout

This novel won a Pulitzer, and is structured similarly to the way I would like to structure the coffee house book, so it was recommended to me by another writer. I haven't started it yet, but I'm looking forward to it. I'm hopeful it will be helpful in writing the coffee house book.

Once I'm (finally) done with these three, I'll move on to some of the other books on my reading list. There are always more books to read, aren't there? And I know that taking the time to read for pleasure will give me some much-needed down time throughout the week.

What are you reading?