Thursday, May 28, 2015

A Gay Irish Wedding

"The simplest acts of kindness are by far more powerful than a thousand heads bowing in prayer."
~Mahatma Gandhi

Kindness, compassion, acceptance, understanding, all words I would hope we all strive for and want in return.

It's hard in today's world, where it's so easy to cyber bully or even for that matter respond quickly in anger without thinking. I have definitely done that, sometimes justified, sometimes not.

Twenty years ago to be angry at someone meant a face to face confrontation, phone call or, hold your breath, writing a letter, with a stamp and everything. Nothing says 'maybe I'm not so angry after all' as trying to put it on paper (try it kids).

Ireland just made it legal for gay marriage and in grand support comes the hatred. J.K. Rowling tweeted a great idea of Dumbledore and Gandolf marrying in Ireland only to be shot down by the Westboro Baptist Church. She gave a short, wonderful response of course but why did she engaged at all with such ignorance?

She said, "I don't care about WBC. I think it's important that scared gay kids who aren't out yet see hate speech challenged."

Brilliant. But where I really learned something was from Evanna Lynch, the actress who played Luna Lovegood. She asked that any anti-gay activist please unfollow and block her. Fair enough. But as she wrote on she explained that having a belief, no matter how misguided, is everyone's right. It's how you put those beliefs on other people that defines your character.

And I never thought of it that way. I had somewhat of an idea that if you secretly judged someone or hated a group of people in an irrational way it made you a bad person. And maybe in a sense it makes you unfortunate, but if you never verbalize, never act on it, never make anyone ever feel any less for it, it is simply a belief and not harmful.

When I told my grandfather I was adopting my daughter from China he said, "You're going to have a little Chink." Meanwhile, he was in tears with joy and began to say he only wanted to live to see this baby. He died before that happened but for my grandmother, who she is named after, she was a joy in her final days.

But in saying that clearly racist term (which I told him he was never to say again) it simply showed his generation. One of World War Two veterans who used such terms without a second thought. Yet he was one of the most loving of men no matter who you were.

So I feel sorry for those who don't know how to change the beliefs that have been ingrained in them and only hope that until they are enlightened they do no harm.

But if your intent is to do harm, to judge, accuse, scorn and hate people you really don't even know, please, as the young actress above requested, remove me from any social feed or possible way of communication. Because to do that you are attacking my friends and my family.

It makes about as much sense as hating people with red hair.

Way to go Ireland.

"I believe a Christian muffler shop owner should have the same right to refuse service to a gay couple, as a gay lifeguard has to refuse service to a drowning Christian.
~Quentin R. Bufogle

Monday, May 18, 2015

How You Going?

"How ya doin'?' I always think, What kind of question is that?, and I always reply, 'A bit too early to tell."
~Christopher Hitchens, Love, Poverty, and War: Journeys and Essays

If I pass you while I'm running in the park, whether you are biking, pushing ten babies, walking three dogs, rollerblading or running, I will smile, wave and say good morning or hello. 

Sometimes I get a truly wonderful response in return. Someone with a big smile and an enthusiastic greeting gives me a small burst of energy and an actual brief joy. Some look at me a bit awkwardly and do a half wave, a brief nod. Some do a sideways smile. Others look away like I invaded their space. Some refuse to make eye contact to begin with. Those people slow me down. I actually feel a loss of energy in my stride.

I'm not saying they are bad people. Some people are very shy or live by the rule of not speaking to strangers even as adults. But their lack of luster makes me sad.

Kids are the best. Some are so excited to be acknowledged and others look immediately worried and confused. I don't take their response personally either, but a cute kid with a huge smile and enthusiastic wave makes my day.

I don't think we are friendly enough anymore. Not to mention the fact that it's good practice to look at the people around you, know what they look like and how they carry themselves. Look them in the eye with confidence and determination. If you go through life with your head down you may miss something important or, at least, present yourself as insecure and vulnerable.

Years ago in Australia the greeting was always, 'How you going?' (That would be a great greeting for joggers or bikers as they pass.) Most people in Australia would smile, look at you, and ask that simple question. It was nice.

How much better would everyone's day be if we all took the time to smile at someone, greet them warmly, and make sure they know they are seen. How often do you not look at your checkout person, waiter, receptionist or any number of other people you come in contact with in a week. How little would it take to change that habit?

So if you see me running be prepared to be greeted! Don't make me lose my stride.

How you going?

"Good Morning! Good Afternoon! Good Night! These are not just mere greetings.
They are powerful blessings, setting the best vibration for the day. Hence, whether it is morning, afternoon or night, make sure that you say your greeting right."

~Franco Santoro

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Heartbreak and Hooves

"There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man."
~Winston Churchill

That quote has been manipulated by many people, including Ronald Reagan, and can be very true, depending on the horse.

Horses can be like anything one loves in life, a pure joy, almost high that someone feels, like a runner crushing a marathon.

They can also break your heart. I have a friend recovering from a knee injury not sure she would ever run again, and running for her is like breathing, how is it possible to not do it? That is horses to a tee.

These big beasts that carried men through war and pull plows, buggies, jump huge jumps and carry police officers around cities are incredibly fragile. They seem to "break" every bit as easy as we do.

We have a lot of heartbreak at the moment where I ride. Injuries that have these beauties recovering for six months to a year or more. I know when my Sweet William was injured I could have sunk thousands into his recovery but he was already in his 20's so retirement was the only answer. It devastated me, he was my safe place through the hardest point in my life. When he had to be put down from a tumor that blocked his throat two years later I didn't know if I would ride again.

He's not the first to break my heart. Most have taken a chunk, whether an early retirement or a myriad of circumstances that led to sadness or disappointment, I have had my share of equine angst.

But I have a second chance with a beautiful big boy, Stewie, so generously put in my care by his loving previous owners. Much like William was left to my care as well and we had an amazing 12 years together. But Stewie had a pretty bad injury, he recovered and reinjured. That's tough on a huge body. I know when I tore both of my ACL's I was told if I re-tore it was only that much less likely to hold.

But this guy is worth the chance. He has the personality of my Sweet William and the presence of a 'King of the Ring.' Everyone that watches his trot and canter can't help but to say "Oh My!" He floats. I've never used this word before for anything I've ever ridden, he is lovely.

But at every moment as he becomes my next heartbreak I hold hard to the hope that I'm taking him slow, recovering him in a smart way, and will give him a lifestyle that hopefully keeps him healthy and happy. He seems to know me now and he is very content in his new life. We have figured out a trust and bond in two months that make me proud of us both.

So there is always a next chapter, a second chance. Whether you're a heartbroken rider, a recovering athlete or simply having any setback in life that seems so devastating in the present. There is always hope, a second chance or a new challenge. Sometimes you have to search for it and sometimes, with patience, it is dropped at your door with four hooves and a love of carrot kisses.

Never lose hope.

"They say a person needs just three things to be truly happy in this world: someone to love, something to do, and something to hope for."
~Tom Bodett