Thankfulness for the Attitude of Transformation

Everyday, I write in my tab called “365 Days of Thankfulness” as a unique way to document my journey with Colon Cancer.  Below is today’s, March 11, 2014… one day before my actual birthday.  Great.  Chemo during my birthday.  It’s not so bad when I have great love, amazing support and friends all around me.  For that reason and many others, I am thankful for cancer.

Okay.  Here’s what I wrote today:

TheBeginningButterflyOne of the wedding gifts that Devon and I got so many years ago were a pair of mounted exotic and colorful butterflies encased in plexiglass. A gentleman runs a conservatory for butterflies and when they die, he sells them as art. They are so cool.

In fact, they are so cool that my amazing Kate declared that she wanted them willed to her when that time comes. She doesn’t want anything else.

(As an unrelated side note, both Kate and Maddie won the National History Day Projects for their categories. They get to go on to the next round. So proud of them. Their topics were AIDS and Its Affect on Human Civil Rights (Kate) and LGBT Human Civil Rights (Maddie). Okay, bragging over.)

Anyway, back to the butterflies.

I think one of the ways that people like me and people like you, who love live, live life and impact others, can make a seemingly bad scenario in our lives into a positive one, is that we see ourselves as caterpillars awaiting our transformation. What is happening in our lives is not the end of the world. It is a new beginning.

Cancer sucks. That’s certainly an aspect of it. No doubt.

But cancer is a path to an amazing transformation. I know that people die from cancer and there aren’t words to comfort people, ultimately. But I will be bold and say that even a death of someone with cancer is a chance for transformation. A new body/soul is made perfect in their transformation to the Other Side (if that is what you believe).

I truly hope those of you who have lost loved ones to cancer don’t feel as though I’m minimizing the reality of it.

But it is also a chance for an amazing life. Cancer can change your perspective about the importance of relationships and learning to be aware of the little things that we take for granted. It causes a person to live life to the fullest and to be able to be along side someone who is experiencing a medical crisis. This can happen both for the person experiencing cancer and the people who love them.

I feel like I’ve turned into a butterfly several times over. And I’m looking forward to my next butterfly birth when this bout with cancer is finished.

Thank you, all of you, for seeing me through this transformation. I love you. And, yes, Kate… the butterfly art is all yours. Right now. Because the life you are living and preparing for is going to make you a beautiful rainbow colored specimen.

Love, Emily the Transformer

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Fighting Cancer, Which I am Thankful For!

EmilyWithCoolWigToday is the day that I released my own Gofundme page.

I am currently in my second battle with Colon Cancer.  The battle is already won, because the tumors are gone, but I must endure another 6 months of chemo.

Some people might think that this totally sucks.  But…

Cancer has been a blessing.

My life is wonderful, and I’m feeling the love.  Be sure to keep up with my daily thankfulness posts, located under the “365 Days of Thankfulness.”  It’s my unique way of documenting my journey through this round of cancer.  Click here to begin reading: January

If you would like to contribute to my three little birds and me, we need help getting through the next 6 months.  Any little thing helps as I was laid off from my job due to not being able to fulfill my teaching duties full time in my awesome charter school, which serves an at-risk population of teenagers.  I am not bitter, because I know that my school cannot afford to pay my salary plus a full time sub.  I will return to work in the Fall, but until then, I need to replace my lost income.

Click here to go to my Gofundme page and you can get the full scoop.  Emily’s Wig Out!

Thanks to all of you who have been sending me encouraging words.  My love tank spills over, and I am blessed.

Love,

Emily Reese and My Three Little Birds

ThreeLittleBirds

God Loves You. (Naw. Just Kidding.)

Fred Phelps can kiss my big white butt.

Fred Phelps can kiss my big white butt.

It’s been far too long since I’ve contributed to our blog.  TONS of stuff, some cool and not so cool, have happened since my last post about marriage based on the awesome movie The Princess Bride (I am fighting cancer again and winning and Devon and Felipe finally tied the knot in New York with our kids as witnesses).  But that is not what this post is about.

I’m writing this post from a place of pissed-off-ed-ness today.  Which I rarely do, so you know you’re in for a REAL treat.  The only other one I wrote was the one titled Kiss My Big White Butt and it felt really good.  Hold on to your shorts.

Here’s the muse that sparked my rant today, based on a Facebook post from an amazing guy that I have had the pleasure of meeting through the interwebs, Michael Booth.

One year ago today I was in an extremely dark place. I was literally stuck in a creepy closet of a room down in Woodstock, GA begging to call home for someone to come and rescue me. I was told that if I made any attempts of calling anyone I would be kicked out on the street with no vehicle, no phone, and no money 400 miles from home. Any kind of hope I had in my sexual orientation changing had been crushed by those in a $14,000 program claiming change was possible during the recruiting process. In the months following my return home I lost some very important relationships. Most of 2013 was very dark for me, but here I am now in a GREAT place with real, genuine friends who love me and my boyfriend for who we are, nothing more or nothing less. It’s AMAZING to me what God can do in such a short period of time. I’m completely humbled that He loves me so much despite all my mistakes and poor decisions. So not worthy!

First of all, Michael, you are worthy.  I mean, we all have fallen short of the glory of God, right?  But God sees us as worthy of love because of Jesus.  End of story.  So stop that stinkin’ thinkin’. (See Romans 5:6-8)

Secondly, this entire thing reminds me of the phrase “Love the sinner, hate the sin.”  People, including myself at one time in my life, adhere to this phrase as though it were an actual verse.

It’s not.  Never was.  Never will be.

I did a little cursory research today.  It didn’t take me long to find the origins of the phrase and the original meaning.  One of the most helpful sources came from a sermon by a pastor of a United Methodist Church in North Carolina. It was beautifully expressed.  Pastor A.J. Thomas has my vote for Cool Pastor of the Year. (I even did a cursory search about him personally and I didn’t see any scandalous stuff on him.  Kudos to you, Pastor Thomas.)

You can find a transcript of this at That’s Not In The Bible:  Hate The Sin, Love The Sinner. I will quote him in some places and rephrase his words in others.  (I didn’t ask your permission first, Pastor Thomas.  I hope you don’t mind.  Contact me if you do and I will change things if need be.)

To paraphrase Pastor Thomas for the sake of space and long-windedness (which is my specialty), the phrase ultimately came from St. Augustine, and Gandhi was the one who translated it as “Love the sinner, hate the sin.”  Gandhi.  Hey, Christians who use it all the time, please note that Gandhi was not a Christian.

Bam!

The original phrase written by St. Augustine was “Cum dilectione hominum et odio vitiorum, which roughly translates as ‘With love for mankind and hatred of sins'” (Pastor Thomas).

And if we look at the context of St. Augustine’s original purpose behind the phrase, it has to do with the REAL meaning of sin, and actually only his OWN sin.  Here comes another long quote from Pastor Thomas:

Context is vital to our understanding. Part of the problem for Christians is that we seem to have lost the Biblical meaning of the word “sin.” Sin doesn’t mean “bad” or “bad things.” In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word is chatta’t and it means, “separation.” In the New Testament, the Greek word hamartia, is translated “sin.” It’s a term from archery that literally means “to miss the mark.” It’s when you let the arrow go and it fails to hit the target. So sin is both a condition – one of separation from God, and a missing of the mark – aiming our lives away from God.  This Biblical understanding of sin helps us understand St. Augustine’s use of the phase.

Party on, St. Augustine.

Party on, St. Augustine.

Prior to his Christian conversion, Augustine had lived a pretty sensuous life – lots of women, lots of drinking and partying and all sorts of self-indulgent behavior. During that phase of his life, he didn’t hate his sins at all – he was actually enjoying them! And so, when Augustine writes, “with love for mankind and hatred of sins,” he calls to rid ourselves of anything that separates us from God and neighbor. He is actually reframing Jesus’ command to “love God and love neighbor.” And here’s the really fascinating thing: he is referring here to hating our own sin, yet when the phrase is used today, most commonly it is used to refer to the sin of others.

The sins of others.  Did you catch that?  Let me repeat what was stated above:

“And here’s the really fascinating thing: he is referring here to hating our own sin, yet when the phrase is used today, most commonly it is used to refer to the sin of others.”

This is what has gotten me pissed off today.  I can honestly say that I should be pissed off at myself, because (like I stated above) I was the Poster Child of using this phrase while growing up and as an adult married to Devon while we loved Christ’s Church and served faithfully in it.  Then, you know the rest of the story.  He came out of the closet, yada yada yada.  Devon was an Elder and Lay Youth Pastor for Pete’s sake!

(Who is Pete, anyway?)

And trust me when I say this:  That phrase is targeted almost exclusively at the LGBT community.  I’ve never heard it used otherwise toward anyone else or any other group.  Have you?

And let’s talk about judgment.  Just so you are well aware, if you aren’t already, Christ never called us to judge.  Never.  Only love.  EVERYONE.  No matter what.  Period.

And because I cannot possibly reword with any sort of eloquence the words that Pastor Thomas wrote about this, I will simply quote him again.  It’s beautiful.

Hating the sin while claiming to love the sinner gives us an opportunity to place more emphasis on the shortcomings of others rather than ourselves. In Matthew 7, Jesus told us to judge not, lest we should be judged. Concerning sin, he told us not to fuss about the speck of sawdust in our brother or sister’s eye when we’re blinded by a 2×4 plank in our own eye. Or, in John 8, a group of people point out to Jesus a woman who had been caught in adultery and remind him that the law teaches she should be stoned to death, and they want his response, and he says, “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone” (John 8:7).

In other words, it is quite inappropriate for us to go around pointing out the faults, shortcomings, failures, and weaknesses of others when we still have so many of our own. “Hate the sin; love the sinner” fails to meet this test because it focuses not on our own sin, but on that of someone else. The Scriptures clearly teach that “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:32), but the caution for Christians is to remember that this applies to us on the inside as well as those we perceive to be on the outside, and perhaps we who live in stained-glass houses should think twice before we start throwing stones.

So, you see, the phrase “Love the sinner, hate the sin” a) was NEVER in the Bible, b) was coined by St. Augustine to refer to his OWN sin, and c) used by Christians to justify judgment in the name of God, which He NEVER has called us to do.  Ever.

And let’s talk about Gandhi for a second.  He was not St. Gandhi.  But he is an icon for many reasons.  Let’s just place here the entire sentence from which he used the phrase “Hate the sin, love the sinner” with what Pastor Thomas said about it.

Then, understanding this phrase in context, we come back to the phrase which appears in Gandhi’s autobiography; many people assume it’s a worldview he embraced. Not so. Just read the whole sentence he actually wrote: “Hate the sin and not the sinner is a precept which though easy enough to understand is rarely practiced, and that is why the poison of hatred spreads in the world.”

No kidding.  When you use the phrase flippantly, like so many do, you are spreading hatred!  Like… oh, I don’t know… what Michael Booth experienced, maybe?  I guarantee the people and circles he ran with quoted the non-Christian Gandhi all the time.  And look where he ended up last year.  In a dark closet.  Wanting to change but being unable to.

Lynda-Carter-Wonder-WomanThese thoughts are difficult to wrap up, especially when I’m writing from such a place of emotion.  But let’s just say this:  If I had superpowers, besides my general Wonder Woman attributes, I would wipe this phrase completely from the face of the earth.  And if people were dying to say something else to replace it, I’d give them the phrase:

God loves the sinner, I hate my sin. Therefore God loves me.  And I will love others and not judge them.

The Maker loves you.  You have NO room to judge anyone else in any way, shape or form. And maybe, just maybe, if humans would stop using the phrase “Love the sinner, hate the sin,” people in Churches wouldn’t feel persecuted and attacked by the “gay agenda,” the LGBT community wouldn’t feel hated and judged, and people can have their beliefs without making enemies of people who deserve to feel worthy of God’s love.

So I am going to challenge you.  If you have used this phrase (and if you are in any kind of a Christian church, you probably have), stop and think about the slippery slope this kind of thinking can lead to.  It’s okay to hate sin… our own.  And honestly, we do make judgments everyday.  We are human.

But think about what that phrase says to someone who is gay.  They cannot change.  They just can’t.  Believe it if you want to, but be sure to look at the TRUE stats and the reasonings behind ex-gay therapy.  It is ugly.  So when a gay person hears the phrase “Love the sinner, hate the sin,” they cannot possibly believe that you love them or that God can love them.  All of our sexual identities are a part of who we are, whether you are heterosexual or homosexual.  So saying you love them, then saying you hate their sexual identity is the same as saying “I hate you.”

I’m telling you, that’s what they hear.  And as an extension, they are hearing “God hates you, too.”

So just knock it off.  Concentrate on your own sin. And when you say that non-Biblical phrase, you are quoting Gandhi.  Which is hysterical to me now.

Michael Booth and ALL of the LGBT community, whether you believe in God or not, you are loved.  Period.  And you are WORTHY of God’s love.  And you are worthy of everyone’s love.

You are quoting Ghandi!  So take that!

You are quoting Gandhi! So take that!

Love,

Emily:  The Sinner.  Who Loves.  And is Loved.

P.S. If you would like to read a really great piece that Michael Booth wrote, you can find it here.  I think when you read it you will see why I love him so much.  It’s creepy how much we have in common:  The Barbie and Ken Meltdown

Wesley, Where Are You? Love, Buttercup.

Mawwiage.  That Bwessed Awwangement.

“Man and WIFE.  Say:  ‘Man and WIFE!'”

Whoa.  What a hot button.  We haven’t spoken much about it on SameSides.  Well, we talk about marriage and the lack thereof, but specifically we haven’t said much about same-sex marriage.  We aren’t scared of talking about it, though.  We have refrained in order to keep our blog on the subject of amicable divorce and getting along with your ex.

But, it’s time to say something now, especially in light of the SCOTUS ruling and all that stuff.  You know, Pride marches, celebrities and athletes coming out of the closet, etc.

Devon is certainly more of an expert about it than I am, however.  I mean, he and Felipe are registered Domestic Partners in Nevada, where civil marriage isn’t legal for them yet.  They wear wedding rings and all that, and even though Domestic Partnership is supposed to be a concession and similar to marriage, it doesn’t quite work that way.  Just ask us about filing our taxes this year.  What a friggin’ nightmare and completely NOT the same as two people filing jointly as married.  Seriously, it was a HUGE pain in the arse for Felipe and Devon.

I have alluded to my opinion a few times on this blog, but I will state it very clearly here in case you have any doubt:  Same-sex marriage should absolutely be allowed.  Also, to be clear, I am very well versed in what this actually means for marriage in our country: it means equality for all people who desire to be married, regardless of sexual orientation.

It DOESN’T mean that men are going to be allowed to marry boys, that sisters can marry brothers, that a group of 15 poly-amorous people can have a giant wedding at the courthouse, that heterosexual marriages are in danger of becoming extinct, or that churches will be forced to perform same-sex marriage ceremonies in their houses of worship.

Inconceivable!

And let’s be brutally honest, here.  Heterosexuals are endangering the “sanctity” of marriage quite effectively all on their own, thank you very much.  Much of the hype from the “right” is fear mongering straw-man tactics, plain and simple.

So, let me bring this back to the marriage that Devon and I shared for nearly 13 years.  Devon didn’t want to be gay.  I mean, who would want to be gay in a society where it’s just not cool?  Things may be getting better, no doubt, but 13 years ago (hell, he’s 38, so back then, totally NOT cool at all), he didn’t want to face his stuff.  I will let him speak for himself, but he didn’t want to admit he was gay.  I’ll bet he ignored his feelings and thoughts or justified them as insignificant.  I remember thinking, when I first found out, that he used me as a cover for his “gayness.”  It was a real feeling, and valid in some ways, but he didn’t use me.  He really did love me.  In other words, it wasn’t a malicious, intentional act.

We loved each other.  So, it was mawwiage for us.

Let’s just say, though, for the sake of argument, that he did marry me to cover up who he was.  That’s not an excuse, but really, can you blame him?  Have you read the horrible comments people make every second on the internet that are horrible, hateful, unloving and even murderous?  If you haven’t, then maybe you’ve been turning a blind eye.  I mean, I am talking disgusting things being said about people who are gay.  I remember Devon being terrified about the people in our church finding out about him coming out to me.  You know why?  Because he was horrified to think that the parents of the kids he pastored as a Youth Minister would believe he was a pedophile preying on their young boys.

This was a reality for him, people.  And I don’t blame him for wanting to keep things on the DL.  Thankfully, in the end, things have worked out.  If you want to read more of the details of our story just go to our “Media/Press Releases” section.  You can find the deets there.  We’ve been dang blessed with the opportunity to encourage others through our story.

I am thankful that we did get married, though.  I wouldn’t have my awesome kids, the memories and growth I gained by knowing Devon, the opportunity to continue to be close friends with he and his family (and Felipe)… and my scrapbook collection is really friggin’ sweet, too.

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LOVE me some basketball.

I read an article in Cosmopolitan about Jason Collins (NBA player) coming out and how his ex-fiance was affected.  Carolyn Moos is someone whom I like to think that I look like to others and what I see when I’m in the mirror (of course, the reality is I’m shorter and squishier than her, but she is a beautiful blonde athlete who played college basketball at Stanford and in the WNBA).  Jason broke off their 8 year relationship and engagement in 2009, without giving her a clear reason.

If you read her article (and any interviews) you will hear the pain in her story.  It’s still pretty fresh to her.  It’s been several years since her breakup with him, but the unanswered questions as to why have been very recent and public.  Honestly, he didn’t handle it very well in my opinion, but when is news like that ever handled well?  It wasn’t for me.  I made a joke.  Devon thought I was serious.  That’s how I found out.  Lovely, huh?

But she is trying.  She’s trying so hard to be as gracious as possible.  Kudos to her.  Should he have told her well before the article in Sports Illustrated came out this spring?  You bet.  Kinda dumb of him.  But that’s on his conscience, not hers.

(Here’s the link to the article in Cosmo.  Don’t forget to come back.)

Jason Collins Is My Ex-Fiance by Carolyn Moos

THANK GOD they didn’t get married.  It’s always the famous people who get dragged through the mud by the media when a spouse gets caught cheating… let alone when the husband gets caught with another MAN.  Governor Jim McGreevy, Tim Haggard, Senator Larry Craig… all men in the media who lived a double life.  In fact, they lived a completely antithetical life to seemingly cover up for their homosexual stuff.  Blech.  Just imagine if Carolyn Moos had gotten married to him.  First of all, Jason Collins would be one miserable person… not because of her, but because of him not being true to himself.  Secondly, the betrayal would be 10 times worse for Carolyn.

Trust me.  It royally sucked.  Thankfully we have chosen to bring our story willingly to the public in small ways.  We’re not famous.  We’re not infamous.  But we’ve had the privilege of helping people because of it.  I didn’t have that when Devon came out.  I vowed that I would make sure to help others because I didn’t have the support of people who really understood what I was actually experiencing.  Don’t get me wrong.  People helped.  But no one really knew what I was going through.

I know that Carolyn needs to go through her stuff.  She needs to be angry, betrayed, hurt, distrusting, work through insecurities, etc.  These are all things I needed to work through, too.  But she doesn’t have kids with Jason.  She doesn’t have to go through a divorce.  She doesn’t have to cover for him… because he came out all on his own to the media.

Things could definitely be worse.

And now, she can still find that one true love.  Get married if she wants to.  Have babies.  Be a stay-at-home-mom or a working mom.  She seems to have a wonderful career in California with training and fitness and charity, from what I can tell.  She’s got a lot going for her.

And Jason can do the same thing.  No hiding.  No shame.  He can marry a man if he wants to, raise kids if he wants to, coach their basketball team, start a business, be a man in a society that accepts him for who he is.  All of it.

Who are these people who fight so strongly against others who are gay and want to get married?  I guess I used to be one of them in many ways.  I thought being gay was a sin.  I thought God created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.  I thought that marriage was between one woman and one man.  DOMA seemed perfectly okay with me at one point in my life.  But I’ve been humbled.  Really humbled.

My husband came out.  That makes you face your stuff pretty quickly.

So, while I’m still looking for my Wesley, waiting for him to sweep me off my feet, mawwiage is possible for everyone.  It is no longer inconceivable for two men or two women to have the same rights of all people as guaranteed under the Constitution of the United States. People don’t have as much of a need to hide to protect themselves from hatred and bigotry these days, even compared to 13 years ago.  Sure, we still have a long ways to go, but I am thankful to be a part of this time in our history.  Now everyone can fall head-over-heels for their Wesley… or Buttercup… and have that Bwessed Awwangement.

May You Receive Everything As You Wish,

Emily

I Couldn’t Have Said It Better Myself

HONESTYHonesty.  Transparency.  Strength.  Perseverance.  Overcoming fear.  These are themes Devon and I have faced in all areas regarding our relationship, divorce and communicating between the two of us (and with you!).  However, the effects of these themes and handling them to the best of our ability with our kids have been amazing.  This Father’s Day, 2013, I read an article by a blogger for the Huffington Post, and I swear, it was something we could have written, though I doubt with such eloquence and poignancy.

Be as honest as you possibly can be with your kids.  Don’t wait ’til they’re adults.  Kids can handle way more than we give them credit for.  They are also quicker to forgive us than we are at forgiving ourselves.

Just come hang out with ours.  Their awesomeness will blow your minds.

Thanks, Seth Taylor, for writing this piece.

Huffington Post Link. Happy Father’s Day!

Devon, Emily, Maddie, Kate and Thomas Reese (and Felipe… duh!)

Felipe, Devon, Maddie, Kate and Thomas in San Fran

Felipe, Devon, Maddie, Kate and Thomas in San Fran

Great Scott!

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Great Scott!  Our final column that we write for the Reno Tahoe Tonight magazine just came out online.  We decided to make it our last column because we feel that the most important parts of our story have been told… in short form.  The things we shared in all of our previous columns were pertinent to the current LGBT issues of the day.  We could share more, which will be forthcoming in our book, but the topics in the RTT were exactly what we needed to write about for the time being.  We are so blessed by knowing Oliver X and his encouragement to tell our story.

The final column for Same Sides is titled BrokeBack to the Future.  In it, I take a ride in Doc’s DeLorean back to my past.  I compare the movie Brokeback Mountain to my own experience (there are some shocking similarities along with major differences) and decide that I’m blessed that Devon had the courage to come clean with me.

Click on the link below, turn to page 100, and enjoy the ride.  DeLoreans rock, almost as much as my own life now.

http://issuu.com/renotahoetonight/docs/rtt_june_2013_issuu_2

Blessings,

Emily and Devon

For links to the other pieces we wrote for our column Same Sides in the Reno Tahoe Tonight magazine, click on “Media/Press Releases” and enjoy!

Hot Dave, The Escort Service and Rock Climbing: Help!

Bear with me.  Keep reading.  I go from topics like pressure cookers, cat-poop boxes, and escort services, to Facebook, rock climbing and Hot Dave.  But I swear, it all ties together somehow.

pressurecookerI have so much pent up stuff on my brain and heart that I just might make like a champagne bottle and explode everywhere.

Ever had those times in your life?  I’ll bet you have, especially if you’re reading our blog because of your pending divorce or the breakup of your marriage.  You’re probably like a pressure cooker and if you explode you might actually kill someone, whether by accident or on purpose.

Get the hell out of town before that comes to fruition.

I did that this weekend.  I got out of town.  While I’m over the breakup of my marriage and our amicable divorce is wonderful now, I still have those moments of needing to slather myself in a vat of Calgon.

You KNOW you loved this commercial growing up.  Take a look:

Grading papers, financially strained from being a poor graduate student, school and kids’ schedules, broken clothes washer, over-filled cat poop box, being single but desiring a fulfilling relationship, awaiting word on my future job contract, blah blah blah. These can all cause me massive turmoil, even though I tend to be a “glass half full” kind of gal.

So I ran.  I ran the hell out of town as fast as I could… to wine country.  No, I didn’t go in order to wine taste and eat at The French Laundry.  I literally needed to get out of town so I could be away from everything that might cause me to procrastinate about the things that really need to get done.

All of this I did… for free.  I’m broke, remember?

The only thing I had to do was ask.  So, per usual, I put an APB out on Facebook, playing all kinds of pity cards sarcastically, asking someone (in their kindness) to give me a place to stay out of town where I couldn’t be distracted with socializing or procrastinating the things that really needed to get done ASAP (my grading, primarily).

When I ask for something or express myself to someone that requires a yes or no answer, I have learned to accept the outcome.  I remind myself:  What’s the worst that can happen?  They say “no?”  I suppose they could reject me completely, but at least I know that they aren’t worth my time if that happens.

Here’s what I posted on The Book of Faces this last Monday:  I’m about to play some pity cards. Cancer survivor, single mom, struggling grad school student, hard-working teacher, end of the year grading… and general stress. Ok. So, hopefully that will help you to see my need for the following: Looking for a place to spend the weekend, for free; also free of people, distractions in general; maybe Tahoe, maybe not. Hell, I’ll even take Fallobama. I need to get away, detox my body, eat healthy, exercise, grade papers, sleep when I need to, study for my own tests. Please be thinking about it and if you know someone who can take pity on poor poor pitiful me, I would be eternally grateful. I can pay with bacon and good vibes.

The responses made me feel so loved.  The worst thing that could happen (rejection), didn’t.  Instead, I had offer upon offer of fabulous generosity.

My friends, Erin Rothfuss and her husband Brian, sacrificed their amazing guest house in wine country to me.  How could I refuse?

rothfussHomeI went by myself, even though I was tempted to call an escort service and hire some Joe-Schmo to act like he was my boyfriend.  I’m not kidding, either.  I’m broke, though, so I had to nix that idea.  I also wouldn’t even know how to get a hold of a jiggalo if I really wanted to.  Ewww.  (Plus, I really did need to work so I figured that might distract me.)

Amazingly, I got the stuff done that needed to be done, which was the review and grading of my senior class research papers.  It took me two full days of work to do it.  It also took some amazing will power to accomplish this since I was in wine country.  But I can look myself in the mirror on Monday and know that I gave my students my best effort.  I wasn’t distracted with the rest of the stuff in my life and I couldn’t procrastinate like usual.  I got things done.  In WINE COUNTRY.

I really am Wonder Woman incarnate.

wonderwoman0111_stevewwwine

OMG. Seriously. Is this not the PERFECT picture right now?

As I finished with my tasks, I knew I needed to release all of this pent up stress by writing.  I needed to write and encourage people because that is what fills my emotional tank.

I started thinking about how awesome it was that just by asking for help and not expecting a yes or a no (but leaving it up to the Universe to provide) has been a life-long lesson for me.

Then I had a memory flash through my noggin.

I was 17.  I was in the San Juan mountains in Southern Colorado.  I was strapped into a harness, looking like a pathetic diaper-wearing, insecure freak (those harnesses are seriously awkward looking in the buttock region).  I was about to rock climb for the first – and last – time.

I have always been the type of person to volunteer first for everything.  I suppose this is due to my own insecurities, ultimately.  It is easier to get things over with instead of waiting around nervously, comparing myself to people who are braver or more confident than me. If I don’t go first I find myself being jealous of them (having finished with a project or presentation) where they can just sit around and relax, not having to think about being in the spotlight any longer… all because they had courage where I didn’t.

So, during my senior year backpacking trip, the day of our foray into hardcore rock climbing came up on our schedule.

rockclimbingI’d never rock climbed before, but I was athletic, strong and in shape.  I figured, due to my propensity for volunteering first, I probably should set the example.  Honestly, I was scared to death.  I hate heights.  I also hate having my ass as the center of attention.  Which is exactly what I felt was the case with that ridiculous harness on.

But I did it anyway.

There was an “easy” and a “difficult” route to choose from.  Because I volunteered, I chose the easy route.  I figured it was the safest.

Meh.  Not so much.

About three quarters of the way through my climb, I was feeling pretty damn accomplished.  Then I got to the part of the “easy” route that was grossly misrepresented.

There is a reason why I am an English teacher and not a math teacher.  I suck at geometry and numbers in general.  But I know this much:  the angle that was required for me to climb and hoist myself up toward the end of the “easy” route was not humanly possible.

In my pride and stubbornness, I refused to ask for help.

After about 30 minutes of my arms shaking, Tourette Syndrome moments, and seeing 12 people pass by me on my left side on the “difficult” route, my guide (Hot Dave) announced to everyone:  “Um.  Guys.  This route is the difficult route.   Sorry about that.”

I could have crapped my pants at this point, but my arse was still hanging out for everyone to see.  I started to cry instead.

Hot Dave called down to me, which was only about 20 feet, and said:  “Just let us help you.”

My pride wouldn’t let me.

“No!  I can do it!”  I was ashamed of myself.  I’d always been able to work myself out of any predicament.  Here I was, Tough Girl, Corn-Fed Iowa Blondie, unable to hoist myself 20 feet, trying to set the example that being brave and volunteering to do things first can really pay off.

After 10 more minutes of seeing my friends scurry up on my left side like Spiderman, it became too much for me.  Hot Dave offered one more time:  “Come on, Emily, it’s okay.  You’re such a strong person, but you need help.”

So I gave in and let him and a couple other guys pull me up like deadweight.  I was crying like a friggin’ baby once they plopped me down on the edge and I felt like plunging off the side of the cliff on purpose from shame because I was determined to get through my struggle on my own… but couldn’t.

For some reason, Hot Dave knew enough about me that he knew what I needed to hear.  He discreetly whispered to me:  “Emily, sometimes we think we can get through something on our own because we feel like it will make us a better person.  But really, what we need, is to have others help carry us through those things.  Everyone needs help sometimes.”

Hot Dave, I wish you were here right now to be my escort in wine country.  You were hot, and seriously, you were really wise.  And I’m pretty sure, based on my life, your words also make you an official soothsayer.

It’s true, isn’t it?  Our pride makes us think we should go through the tough stuff alone so we don’t burden others.  It’s our stuff to experience.  We don’t want to be a bother to someone else.  You know what?  That’s Pride whispering to you, who is a big, fat liar.

prideandprejudice

I do love Pride and Prejudice, though. The A & E movie version was the closest to the book that I have ever seen. Pride kept Elizabeth and Darcy away from each other for far too long.

Sometimes we need to let go of our pride and admit that we can’t do it alone.  Ultimately, admitting that we need help is a sign of strength and confidence, not weakness.

So, here I am, venting to you.  My life really is pretty awesome, but I still need a little help every once in awhile, probably more often than I like to admit.

Have you been trying to make it though your stuff, acting all tough, and not asking for the help you probably need?  Stop acting so tough.  Admit it.  Everyone needs help sometimes.  It took me four months before I told a soul after Devon’s Big Reveal.  It was my pride that kept me from doing it.  Having cancer and not asking for help was my M.O. a couple of years ago.  I had to learn to be humble and actually ask for help and admit that I’m not as tough as I think I am.

Just ask.  What’s the worst that can happen?  Someone says “no?”  Oh well.  That’s not so bad.  But what if they say “yes?”

You could probably use the help.  Don’t be a pressure cooker or a champagne bottle.  Ask for help before you explode.  Get out of town.

Do it before you crap your pants in front of everyone. Thanks, Erin and Brian, for some awesome and much needed R & R.  I got stuff done, got to relax with you, and didn’t have to spend a dime.  The Universe is good.  Thanks for helping me out.

For my valediction, here are some of the lyrics to the song by the Beatles, Help.

When I was younger, so much younger than today,
I never needed anybody’s help in any way.
But now these days are gone, I’m not so self assured,
Now I find I’ve changed my mind and opened up the doors.

Help me if you can, I’m feeling down
And I do appreciate you being round.
Help me, get my feet back on the ground,
Won’t you please, please help me.

Peace,

Emily Reese

GradingWineCountry

Here’s a silly little meme I made in honor of my getaway. Ah… First World problems…